ALLEN PARK — When Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn spoke to reporters for the first time in a couple of months, the head coach and defensive coordinator each shared a similar feeling about new Detroit Lions defensive line coach Terrell Williams.

When asked about Lions defensive tackle Brodric Martin’s development, Campbell expressed his belief in Williams by saying, “I think he really is – he’s the best D-Line coach in this league.” You can debate what position he is in if he isn’t. Back at the scouting combine, the head coach had said this about Williams, complimenting him on his grasp of the game and track record of developing and getting the best out of his players.

About 20 minutes later, Glenn was asked about increasing the team’s sack numbers for the upcoming season. He expressed his confidence in Williams, saying, “I feel like we have one of the best — if not the best — D-line coach in the league.”


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Williams, who will now oversee the defensive line and serve as the team’s run game coordinator, replaces John Scott after one season in Detroit. Williams brings 11 years of experience coaching the defensive line for the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, and Tennessee Titans. In his final year with Mike Vrabel’s staff in Tennessee, he also held the title of assistant head coach. He joins a coaching staff that features many former players and familiar faces.

“The technique, the way he coaches, his confidence, and his intelligence about the position,” Glenn elaborated about Williams when asked by MLive. “Listen, I’ve been around a couple of good ones. Ryan Nielsen, who’s currently the coordinator in Jacksonville, I’ve been around him for a while, and they’re comparable in terms of knowledge and defense.

“And he believes exactly what I believe in when it comes to D-Line play, so that’s a good thing.”

Williams takes over a defensive line that significantly contributed to one of the league’s best-run defenses last season. The Lions allowed only 3.7 yards per carry, ranking third in the NFL, and just 1,509 rushing yards for the season, ranking second in the league. Aidan Hutchinson was one of the top pressure creators in his second season, and Alim McNeill showcased another level to his game with a breakout third year.

Despite the Titans’ struggles last season, they maintained a strong run defense and had one of the best red-zone performances, ranking first in red-zone scoring.

Although Williams was happy with the Titans after six years, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reunite with Campbell, from their time together in Miami, and general manager Brad Holmes, whom he coached while serving as North Carolina A&T’s defensive line coach.


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“I trust Dan, and I trust Brad, and they trust me,” Williams told a small group of local reporters at the combine. “You can ask them, I don’t want to speak for them, but that’s what’s important to me. If I can trust you, then we can have tough conversations and those things, and that’s important to me. Dan and I have talked for years about having an opportunity to work together, and when this opportunity came, it was an easy decision for me.

“The Titans were great to me over the last six years, and I had planned on moving forward with them. But the opportunity to get with Dan, Brad, AG, and those guys, and work for this organization, along with my wife having family in Detroit and my son’s hockey – the hockey part was bigger than you think. It was a huge part of me coming here to Detroit.”

Williams has Hutchinson and McNeill leading the returning players. Additionally, the Lions have Brodric Martin, last year’s third-round pick, and Josh Paschal, a second-round pick, along with fan-favorite John Cominsky. They also have Levi Onwuzurike, another former second-rounder, and Marcus Davenport, one of their top free-agent signings, who are looking to overcome durability concerns and move past their well-documented injuries.

Oh, and let’s not forget DJ Reader, who has been one of the game’s best nose tackles whenever and wherever he plays.


New Detroit Lions DL coach Terrell Williams earning rave reviews from HC  Dan Campbell, DC Aaron Glenn

“Violent,” Williams said from Indianapolis. “That’s it. That’s it. I’m not gonna give you a dissertation about, ‘Hey, we have to do this …’ You gotta play violent, and you gotta play with effort. The violent element of it, that’s a big part of playing that position.”

“You want men who acknowledge that.” You have to acknowledge that the position is what it is. You have to play with effort at this intense, high-collision position; if you can’t, you’ll find it difficult to play. I haven’t seen very many high-level starters that aren’t vicious players. That simply doesn’t work; the two don’t go together.


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