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Gregg Williams' complex, unpredictable defense keeps Jets on their toes

Jets defensive cooordinator Gregg Williams watches the team

Jets defensive cooordinator Gregg Williams watches the team while they run drills during training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., on Monday. Credit: Daniel De Mato

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Loud, aggressive, dogged and unpredictable.

There are a number of intimidating-sounding things to call Gregg Williams, and various Jets have been pretty good at reciting them. The Jets’ new defensive coordinator at times has seemed larger than life — an exacting boss who expects big things from his players.

It’s hard to know what you’re going to get when Williams calls the shots during training camp practices, running back Ty Montgomery said. And that’s exactly why the Jets’ offense is profiting.

“Coach Gregg Williams is always dialing up crazy blitzes, fronts, schemes,” Montgomery said. “[He’s] got us seeing multiple looks. It’s real good for us because his defense is fast, flying around, and we also have some hybrid players on defense. You have safeties in the box or linebackers doing something other than just rushing the passer. It’s really good for us [the offense] — guys everywhere, guys doing everything and guys playing fast and competing.”

On Monday — the day after an off day — the offense showed signs of rust but the defense seemed crisp and formidable. It was enough to get a nod of approval from coach Adam Gase.

“There are so many things that he does that we’re just learning every day,” Gase said of Williams. “There’s something that he does a little different each day that our guys have to adjust to. They have to figure [it] out. We have to figure it out on the fly sometimes. That’s a good thing.”

The benefits have filtered down to quarterback Sam Darnold, who struggled against the Williams-led Browns defense last year. With Gase determined to make practices as game-like as possible, Darnold has had to adapt against a consistently shifting target.

“That was the first time I saw Gregg Williams’ defense [against Cleveland], so I learned a lot from that game and I’ve learned a lot throughout these practices,” Darnold said. “I think it’s definitely challenging. It’s fun to come out here and compete every single day against a defense like that because you never know what you’re going to see. It makes it fun and interesting every single day.”

Williams may have clashed with players in the past because of his strong personality, but linebacker Jordan Jenkins said there isn’t any of that here. Williams, he said, has brought out the best in the defense, himself included.

“A lot of people have said things about Gregg in the past, but I love the guy,” Jenkins said. “He’s intense, he’s loud. He’s an aggressive guy . . . If you respect Gregg, he respects you and [it’s important you] don’t listen to how he conveys the message. Listen to the message itself. He says what guys need to hear. He’s not going to sugarcoat it. He’s not going to baby you. He’s not going to belittle you. He’s going to treat you like a man, and you have to respond like a man, and that’s it.”

It’s no secret, too, that Williams’ confrontational approach comes out in his defenses. The name of his game is flexibility and aggression — a combo that allows the Jets’ defense to give opposing offenses a multitude of different looks, ideally while playing to athletes’ various strengths.

“He’s the type of coach who’s going to push you because, if not, he’s going to be in your ear all the time,” Jenkins said. “Gregg is just the type of guy that brings the aggression out in guys. He brings out a controlled aggression and not just, ‘Oh, this guy did this to me last play, and I got to get my get-back.’ ”

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