Jerry Gray used to work for Gregg Williams.
And apparently he learned a thing or two about a turn of phrase from his old boss.
The Titans defensive coordinator used some frankly disturbing language in reference to his team’s inability to stop passes across the middle of the field.
Gray told Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean he wanted his guys to play without regards to possible fines.
“If you are worrying about that, you are not going to go out and try and blow the guy up,” Gray said. “Great football players have to put that out of their mind. You have to say, ‘This is my territory between the numbers, and if you throw the football you better bring the Gator truck.’
“And that’s how you have to play. You can’t play timid in the NFL.”
The Gator is the green tractor/cart teams use to haul off injured players.
If that’s not quite “Kill the head and the body will die,” it’s at least running down the same road, and the kind of thing coaches should be smarter than to say out loud in the wake of the Saints bounty investigation, for which Williams was suspended.
There’s a way to read it that comes up well short of “Jerry Gray is telling his guys to hurt opponents,” but he opened the door when referencing what amounts to a “cart-off.”
The Titans currently rank last in the league in points allowed, next to last in yards. They’ve also been outscored 41-13 in the first quarters.
“Have we blown anybody up? … Maybe we are playing too timid,” Gray said. “We can’t give up touchdowns as soon as we get off the bus. We didn’t do that last year. You can’t give up touchdowns in the first quarter and expect to get sacks and expect to get turnovers. . . .
“I don’t coach a defense like this, and I don’t think they intend to play a defense like that. But when it happens, what do you do to fix it? And that is our job. We have 12 weeks to fix it.”
Gray should also expect to spend part of that time on the phone with someone in New York, who will explain to him that you can’t even approach the suggestion of soliciting injuries at a time when the league’s preaching player safety.