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With Goodell extended, all eyes turn to NFLPA and De Smith

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The lockout ended in late July.  In December, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received a reward in the form of seven years of job security.

In contrast, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has a contract that is due to expire in roughly seven weeks.

It’s unknown whether the players will choose to keep Smith.  Before a fight for the job can crystallize, someone will have to emerge as an alternative candidate.  If no one else runs against Smith, he’ll get the extension by default.

Regardless of how it plays out, the ball will get rolling soon.  The NFLPA holds an annual press conference during Super Bowl week, and the topic of De Smith’s job security definitely will be an issue, especially in light of Goodell’s extension.

As to the potential impact of Goodell’s extension on the willingness of the players to keep Smith, it could go either way.  On one hand, the players could perceive that the owners believe they “won” the work stoppage, which would make the players leery about keeping Smith.  On the other hand, the players could feel compelled to publicly embrace Smith on an “us, too” basis in order to justify their past faith in De Smith.

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Goodell grateful: “It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to work”

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The five-year extension for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell inspired a lot of quick reaction from PFT Planet, much of it not overly positive. (Then again, a comments section isn’t the place to search for sunshine and light.)

Goodell’s reaction to the news, of course, is rather positive.

“It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to work,” Goodell said via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “I’m grateful to owners, staff, players and coaches . . . truly a team effort.”

The 32 NFL owners released a statement together:

“The commissioner has performed his duties in an exemplary fashion since his election in 2006.”

Goodell stubbed his toe occasionally since taking over, but I tend to agree with the owners. He took over an extremely successful league and things have only grown since 2006.  The lockout ended before major damage happened. We’re guaranteed ten years of labor peace.

It’s not an easy job and it shouldn’t be for the insane money Goodell makes. Ultimately, Goodell seems to keep his eye on the best interests of the league while keeping his 32 bosses happy.

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Roger Goodell gets five-year contract extension through 2018 season

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come a long way since he was making a $1 salary during the lockout.

Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that Goodell’s contract has been extended five years through the 2018 season. (It expires in March of 2019.) His previous deal was set to expire in March of 2014.

The NFL escaped the lockout without any lasting damage, equipped with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that ultimately helped out the finances of the owners. The league’s massive new television deals likely helped to secure Goodell’s future.

Kaplan notes that Goodell made roughly $10 million-per-year before this news, and it’s safe to assume he’ll get a pay bump now. Goodell took over in 2006 and will have run the league for 13 years by the end of his contract.

His predecessor Paul Tagliabue had the job 17 years before stepping down.

UPDATE: 12:14 p.m. ET: The league confirmed the news. “I speak on behalf of 32 NFL club owners in saying we are fortunate to have Roger Goodell as our commissioner,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank told Kaplan.

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Panthers want to know if Chudzinski is still a candidate for Bucs job

Rob Chudzinski, Sean McDermott, Ron Rivera AP

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking their time about hiring their next head coach, which means the candidates who are currently employed by other teams have put their offseasons in something of a holding pattern.

One candidate is Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, and that means the Panthers don’t know whether they’re going to have to be in the market for a new offensive coordinator in the weeks ahead. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wishes he could find out already.

“Believe me, I’d love to know just so we can go forward,” Rivera told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve got a lot of things we have to do and we’ve kind of put [them] off during this whole period.”

There’s no reason for the Bucs to speed up the process just to placate the Panthers, but this situation does demonstrate how a team with a head-coaching vacancy can mess with the offseasons of other teams simply by stringing their assistants along. The Buccaneers have indicated that they won’t rush to hire a head coach, so Rivera and Chudzinski may not hear anything any time soon.

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PFT Live: Rick Stroud, PFT Planet

Wednesday’s PFT Live will talk about the latest developments in the Bucs coaching search.

Rick Stroud of the newly named Tampa Bay Times joins the show to talk about the latest with the Buccaneers.

We will also be taking your calls at 888-237-5269 around 12:15 p.m. ET.

Watch the show live right here.

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Peyton Manning enjoyed respite from Colts facility


Peyton Manning’s revealing interview with Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star wasn’t the only conversation Manning had with the media on Monday evening.

Manning also spoke with Judy Battista of the New York Times, in an article that ran in Wednesday’s paper.

The focus of the article is Peyton’s trip to San Francisco and appreciation of his brother Eli’s play with the Giants. Peyton argues that Eli isn’t necessarily playing any better this year than normal because he’s always been played so well.

The entire piece is worth checking out, but the most interesting portions were those that shed light on Peyton’s future.

“There’s a reason Eli and [Giants offensive coordinator Kevin] Gilbride have been together for so long, because Gilbride has called good plays and Eli has played well. Me and Tom Moore earned the right to stay together. It’s a compliment to Eli and Gilbride. If you call good plays and it’s working, they shouldn’t want to fire you,” Manning said.

Moore was gently pushed aside in Indianapolis after the 2010 season. Manning says no one in the Colts building knows who is going to be fired next.

Manning’s message to Kravitz was rather clear. Just in case we missed it, he sounded many of the same themes to the New York Times.

“It’s not the kind of environment you like to be in. It was fun to get out of town,” Manning said.

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Lions’ Johnny Culbreath arrested for marijuana possession


Lions backup offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath was arrested on Monday for possession of marijuana.

The Times and Democrat reports that Culbreath was charged with simple possession of marijuana in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. He has already paid a fine of $412 to end the case.

According to the report, Culbreath was staying at the Country Inn and Suites, where a hotel clerk called the police to report that a guest was using marijuana. Surveillance videos had shown Culbreath putting something in a hallway drawer, and when the police asked him what he put in there, he answered, “two blunts.” Police then found what they described as “a small plastic bag with plant material” in the table.

Culbreath was the Lions’ seventh-round pick in last year’s NFL draft, but he never played after being placed on injured reserve with an unspecified illness just before the start of the season.

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Jack Del Rio could land in Denver

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio reacts to a call during the second half of their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford Reuters

With Dennis Allen leaving Denver for Oakland, Broncos coach John Fox needs a new defensive coordinator.

Fox may wind up hiring someone that was his old defensive coordinator in Carolina. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports Jack Del Rio has emerged a candidate to replace Allen.

Del Rio was Fox’s coordinator with the Panthers in 2002 before landing the head coaching job in Jacksonville. It’s a little unclear if Del Rio wants to coach in 2012 or move his family from Jacksonville. He’s still collecting money from the Jaguars, so choosing to work elsewhere is essentially choosing to work for free. (If Del Rio earned $1 million in Denver, he’d make $1 million less from the Jaguars.)

Then again, most coaches simply want to work. Raheem Morris, Tony Sparano, and Steve Spaganuolo are all back in the league. They didn’t want to sit at home and collect money.

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Scoreboard is operated by home team, but Ravens still shouldn’t complain


In response to last night’s item regarding the suggestion by Ravens kicking consultant Randy Brown, whose job presumably consists of yelling “Oyage!” from the sideline (thanks for the inspiration, Fritzy), of scoreboard manipulation in Foxborough, several of you have insisted that the Patriots couldn’t have deliberately displayed false information because the league, not the Patriots, operates the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, that’s not accurate.  NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email this morning that the home team operates the scoreboard.

I mention this reluctantly, because I firmly believe that, even if the Patriots intentionally put up the wrong number in order to confound Cundiff (and I strongly, strongly doubt they did), the Ravens should have relied on their own assessment of the situation — or at a minimum the large sticks with the number on top of them.

“The scoreboard was one down behind, the entire last three plays, from what we understand,” Brown told WIP radio on Tuesday.  “I don’t think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?

Aiello said the league would have no comment on Brown’s comments.  But the league frowns upon baseless accusations of cheating, as the Jets and special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff learned after the Sal Alosi incident in December 2010.  Westhoff suggested that the Dolphins and Patriots also try to trip or impede “gunners” who stray toward the sidelines.  Jets owner Woody Johnson later called Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Patriots owner Robert Kraft to apologize.

In this case, regardless of what the league does or doesn’t do, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti should be making a call to Massachusetts.  Right after he finds out precisely why in the hell his team employs a “kicking consultant.”

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After loss, Ray Lewis told Ravens: This makes us stronger

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After the Ravens lost the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots, Ray Lewis said publicly that he will not retire. And in a private moment with his teammates, he sounded even more fired up to keep going.

When the Ravens joined together in the locker room after the game, Lewis insisted that the team had to use the bitter taste of a tough loss as a reason to unite and build a better team next season.

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time,” Lewis said. “This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

It was the kind of inspirational message that shows why Lewis has long been viewed not only as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history but also as one of the greatest team leaders in NFL history. You can hear Lewis’s speech here.

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Irsay says he’s not upset about paying Peyton $26 million for nothing

Jim Irsay AP

If you’re only going to follow one sports-related Twitter page, follow the Twitter page of Colts owner Jim Irsay.  It’s the perfect blend of news, song lyrics, and cryptic clues.

This morning, Irsay is addressing the Peyton Manning situation.  Specifically, Irsay uses the platform to dispel an apparent rumor that Irsay isn’t happy that he paid Manning many millions in 2011.  Here’s the full text of the tweet:  “Knowing medical situation last yr. n still paying $26,000,000.00 to #18,I’ve no regrets.It was right thing2do,I’m not pissed,contrary2rumor.”

By pointing to a rumor that we hadn’t heard and that we’ve yet to find reported anywhere, Irsay has given the story unnecessary legs.  Irsay also seems to suspect the dissemination of false info, unless this subsequent tweet comes from a tune with which I’m not familiar:  “Some1’s got it n 4 me,they’re planting stories in the press…whoever it is,they better cut it out quick,but when they will,I can only guess.”

If someone deliberately is putting out the rumor that Irsay is upset that he paid Peyton $26 million for nothing in 2011, it would be appropriate for Irsay to wonder whether it’s coming from Peyton or someone close to him.  Based on Manning’s Monday night interview with Bob Kravitz, it’s obvious that Peyton has fired the first shot in a battle for the hearts and minds of Colts fans in advance of the looming divorce.

Then there’s the fact that Irsay has created a flock of potential enemies over the past few weeks by firing a head coach, assistant coaches, a G.M., and a Vice Chairman.  Any, some, or all of those folks could be sharing with members of the media their own stories about things they witnessed or perceived behind closed doors last season, while the Colts sank to the bottom of the league and the money paid to Manning did nothing to make a difference.

Regardless, the Irsay Twitter page likely will become more interesting before it gets any less interesting between now and March 8, the date on which another $28 million will be paid to Peyton Manning.

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What losing a Super Bowl can do to you

Eli neartackle AP

The clarity of a final score is one reason we love sports. The finality.

For 53 players, Super Bowl Sunday will be the culmination of a lifelong dream. The other team will experience a pain that is worse than any other possible result in pro football.

Coaches say it all the time. The brutal losses, especially in the Super Bowl, linger forever. The emotion of losing in many ways is greater than of joy of coming out on top. That’s especially true for the 2007 Patriots.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald does a great job tracking down many of the members of that team, and finding out how the game haunts them. Most striking: the account of defensive lineman Jarvis Green.

He couldn’t sleep for weeks after failing to bring down Eli Manning on the play that ultimately made David Tyree famous.

“When I think about that play sometimes, I think if I could have made that play, I could have been going to Disney World,” Green said. “I had four or five tackles and a sack already, and that would have put me over the top. That would have ended the game. I just know after that play, about three or four weeks after that, I was still really shaken.

“I can remember getting up in cold sweats. I can remember just tossing and turning. And my wife telling me I was talking in my sleep. I said, ‘What are you talking about? I don’t talk in my sleep.’ She said I was saying stuff like, calling out plays, the defensive plays. I told her to put it on a tape recorder. She never did. But it was a tough time after that.”

Revenge is probably an overstated factor for the 2011 Patriots. Only seven active players participated in the last Super Bowl against the Giants. It’s not like the Patriots need more motivation.

Their primary goal: Avoid ever feeling like Jarvis Green did after the loss to the Giants.

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Ray Rice on Ravens, Cameron, Flacco, and Ray Rice

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Getty Images

For those of you who missed Tuesday’s PFT Live and didn’t watch the on-demand content or download the iTunes version, we’re going to give you another opportunity to ignore the show.

Ravens running back Ray Rice spoke about a variety of issues, and he demonstrated a healthy perspective regarding the team’s inability to get back to the Super Bowl.

Rice also addressed the future of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, quarterback Joe Flacco’s desire for a new contract, and Rice’s own contract situation.

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Eagles G.M. vows that team will be better in 2012

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With the exception of owner Jeffrey Lurie explaining that, if he didn’t expect the team to be better in 2012, he would have made a coaching change, Eagles management has been conspicuously quiet in the early stages of the offseason.  Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman has broken the silence.  Not surprisingly, he says that the team will be better in 2012.

Roseman spoke with Reuben Frank of on Tuesday, from the Senior Bowl.  “We were 8-8, and we have work to do,” Roseman said.  “We’ve got to look at everything we’re doing and make sure we evaluate it honestly and learn from our mistakes.  We’ll study everything around the league, the way everybody else does things, and we’ll get better.

“I’m not going to sit here in a bubble and say, ‘We’re so great.’  When we look back, there are things we wish we had done better.  I can get better, we all can get better.”

If Roseman were to say, “We’re so great,” the bubble in which he would be sitting would be one of delusion and/or drunkenness.  Though the four-game winning streak to end the season is encouraging, the Eagles failed miserably in 2011, especially given the standards they not only established but embraced.  On PFT Live, Eagles president Joe Banner declared that the line between success and failure wasn’t making the playoffs but winning the Super Bowl.

“Obviously, when we’re sitting here at the Senior Bowl and not the Super Bowl, it’s not where you want to be,” Roseman said.  “So we have to get better, and we’ll look at every facet of the team and every avenue possible to improve and make sure next year is different.”

Roseman, like Lurie, believes that will happen.  “It always starts with your head coach and quarterback, and we are so fortunate to have Andy Reid and Michael Vick in those spots, and we feel like that gives us a chance,” Roseman said. “We need to get better, but I do feel like we have good players, and in the next few months, we’ll have the opportunity to upgrade in all the areas we feel like we need to.

“There’s a lot of optimism here.  Everybody in the building is very excited about where we are.”

Eagles fans understandably are more guarded.  They all got excited last year, and they suffered a major letdown.  If there’s another letdown in 2012, the excitement next year could come from a new head coach, and possibly a new G.M.

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Cam Cameron feeling heat after missed opportunity

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Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s future in Baltimore is uncertain at best, despite the support of players like Ray Rice.

Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun reports Cameron doesn’t know his status for next year yet. But “many” offensive staff members were told they needed to get to the Super Bowl or they might be dismissed.

On top of that, Cameron has reportedly been criticized by team officials for drawing up a play to Lee Evans late in the game instead of other prominent receivers.

Cameron is easy to criticize for his predictability on offense, but that’s a silly comment. The ball was in Evans’ hands and the defender made a great play. If Evans hangs on, Cameron is suddenly a much better coach?

Still, it may be time for a change in Baltimore on offense and Cameron’s relationship with Joe Flacco won’t help his chances. Speculation in Baltimore has centered around Hue Jackson as a possible replacement. We wonder if Todd Haley could be a fit.

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Jaguars tell Terrance Knighton he’s too fat

Philip Rivers,  Terrance Knighton AP

Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is getting some hard truths from the team’s coaching staff: He’s too fat to succeed in the NFL.

The 25-year-old Knighton, who’s listed at 336 pounds but reportedly weighs considerably more than that, had his worst season as a pro in 2011, and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker says he has leveled with Knighton about the fact that he needs to lose weight.

“I’m not going to tell you anything I haven’t told Terrance,” Tucker told Alex Marvez and Jim Miller on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “He knows this is put-up-or-shut-up time right now. He knows he can be a dominant player if he keeps his weight under control. Now is the perfect time to get that right. He knows that, ‘If I’m going to be the player I need to be and can be and have the respect of my teammates and coaches, there are certain things I have to do on and off the field.’ Weight management is one of those things. That’s a major part of it.”

Knighton should benefit this year from having a full off-season conditioning program, whereas last year he was left to his own devices — and his own kitchen — during the lockout. Tucker says he believes Knighton will work hard to take the weight off.

“I believe he’s fully committed to doing that this out-of-season, and we’re going to help him with that,” Tucker said. “That’s the great part about it: Coaches and players working hand-in-hand to help this football team. That’s what it’s going to take. He’s fully committed.”

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Marshawn Lynch AP

Former Dolphins WR Mark Duper says he feels great despite recently having a football-sized malignant tumor removed from his kidney.

The Patriots are motivated by revenge.

The Jets have hired Dave DeGuglielmo as their new offensive line coach, reuniting him with his old boss in Miami, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

Ravens K Billy Cundiff is getting credit for being a stand-up guy after blowing the AFC Championship Game.

Last year the Bengals wouldn’t allow secondary coach Kevin Coyle to interview elsewhere, but this year they’re letting him interview.

Tim Hauck is the Browns’ new defensive backs coach.

Randy Fichtner could become the Steelers’ next offensive coordinator.

The Texans call J.J. WattThe Milkman” because he always delivers, which makes no sense because milkmen haven’t delivered in about half a century.

Colts owner Jim Irsay has put together a long list of coaching candidates.

Says Jaguars G.M. Gene Smith of his player evaluations, “I want to feel the player, not just see the player. How they compete, what kind of shape they’re in, what they comprehend. That, to me, is a big part of the live exposures.”

The Broncos will look to improve primarily through the draft, not free agency.

Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie is putting a lot on the line with new head coach Dennis Allen.

The Chargers are hoping to add a pass rusher.

The Cowboys met with Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw at the Senior Bowl.

The Giants say they weren’t head-hunting with 49ers return man Kyle Williams.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is taking some criticism in Philadelphia.

Redskins S LaRon Landry is opting for a non-surgical approach to his Achilles injury.

Phil Emery’s boss in Kansas City says he’s ready to take over the Bears’ front office.

The Lions are working on extensions with their assistant coaches.

Mike Holmgren will be inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier says he’s impressed by the enthusiasm of assistant coach Brendan Daly.

A new open-air stadium for the Falcons is being discussed in Atlanta.

Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks is right at home in Charlotte.

Says new Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo of getting hired in New Orleans after getting fired in St. Louis, “I’m very blessed that when this thing happened in St. Louis, the phone did ring.”

Mike Sherman looks like the favorite to become the next head coach of the Bucs, although it’s entirely possible that the team is secretly negotiating with an unknown candidate, as it did with Chip Kelly.

The Rams’ lease says the Edward Jones Dome has to be a first-tier stadium, although it’s not quite clear what “first-tier” means.

There’s talk in San Francisco that the 49ers should go after DeSean Jackson.

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is heading to the Pro Bowl.

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Broncos lament loss of Dennis Allen to Raiders

Dennis Allen AP

More than 20 years ago, the Raiders pilfered from the Broncos an assistant coach named Mike Shanahan.  Oakland’s most recent raid on Denver has yielded the team’s new head coach, former Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

Though the Shanahan situation worked out well in the end for the Broncos, what with Shanahan later returning to become the head coach and leading Denver to its only Super Bowl wins, current members of the team acknowledge that Oakland’s gain will be their loss.

“He knew how to get us ready,” cornerback Champ Bailey told NFL Network, via the San Francisco Chronicle.  “I give him a lot of credit for the success we had this year. . . .  He’s one of the most intense coaches I’ve had.

“I know what type of team he’s going to have.  Very intense, hard-nosed, tough.  That’s the way he is.  That’s what I expect his team to be.”

Linebacker Von Miller agreed.  “They’re getting a guy that’s going to come in right away, and he’s going to get it done,” Miller told NFL Network. “That’s what he did for us.  He came in, he laid out a plan for us, he told us, ‘This is how we’re going to do it, and this will work,’ and that’s what happened. We improved our defense an incredible amount. . . .  I think he’ll do the same thing with the Oakland Raiders.”

Raiders fans asking “Dennis Who?” should keep that in mind.  Instead of latching on to an established name (i.e., someone who has been fired from an NFL head-coaching job), the Raiders are trying to find the next big-name coach before he becomes the next big-name coach.

Hopefully, that’ll happen for the Raiders before Allen is fired and later becomes the Broncos’ head coach and leads the team to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

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Gregg Williams promises “culture change” in St. Louis

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New Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says his players should be ready to do things his way, or not at all.

There will be a culture change here,” Williams said in his introductory conference call.

Williams hastened to add that by saying that, he’s not criticizing the way former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo ran the defense. But he is saying he’ll do things differently.

“I think the world of ‘Spags,’ but don’t mistake me for that,” Williams said. “I’m not him. And there will be some differences here on some of the things that I expect.”

So how will Williams be different? He said it’s less about changing the playbook and more about changing the way players are motivated.

“I get way too much credit for the Xs and Os,” he said. “But my specialty is handling people, especially difficult people.”

And Williams says his approach to handling people includes a lot of yelling at practice, followed by a calm demeanor on game days.

“I’m going to do everything in the world to put as much external stress on the staff and the players as I can,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of hollering and screaming, and a lot of intensity come out of me. But on game day you’ll never see that because those players and those coaches that are working in those stressful conditions, they don’t need any more external stress.”

What the Rams do need is someone to whip their defense into shape following last season’s 2-14 record. Williams is the man to do that.

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