Star ex-pupil praises Fewell as a leader

Perry Fewell's greatest pupil was pleased to receive news the Buffalo Bills had promoted Fewell to be their interim head coach.

"I'm not surprised at all that he's got an opportunity," eight-time Pro Bowl defensive back Aeneas Williams told me soon after learning the Bills had fired head coach Dick Jauron. "There's a number of coaches on that staff, but for him to be pegged -- whether it's interim or not -- to be head coach and lead those men and have that staff going forward in a difficult situation, I'm not surprised."

Williams has two direct links to the Bills through his relationship with Fewell and rookie safety Jairus Byrd.

Williams played under Fewell with the St. Louis Rams. Fewell joined the Rams as defensive backs coach in 2003, the same year Williams' old friend, Gill Byrd, arrived as a defensive assistant. It was then that Williams became a full-fledged mentor for Byrd's son, Jairus, a rookie of the year candidate who leads the NFL with eight interceptions.

Fewell's familiarity with Jairus Byrd played a significant role in Buffalo's decision to draft him in the second round, one of few successful decisions that transpired while Jauron was head coach and perhaps a factor in selecting Fewell over special teams coach Bobby April.

Williams said he was impressed with Fewell from the moment he joined the Rams, who had gone to Super Bowls two of the preview four seasons.

"I remember when he came in he wasn't in awe of anything," Williams said. "He was very professional. He knew how to get guys to play the defense and assimilated very well into a winning culture.

"Coach Fewell knew how to relate to the guys to get the veterans as well as the younger guys to play together. He commanded the respect of the players -- not demanded, but he commanded the respect of us players by his professionalism and his ability to help us be successful."

Fewell spent two seasons with the Rams. He coached defensive backs for a season with the Chicago Bears under Lovie Smith before Jauron hired him to be the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2006.

"He's been a part of organizations where we've won and we've lost, but we still were able to make it through it," Williams said. "He was always calm and always set the tone of the expectation that, 'Even though we're 0-6, this week we're going to do what it takes to get better.'"