The Saints may have extra motivation this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns as it pits Sean Payton against Gregg Williams, the man he blames for Bountygate
Current Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will face off against his former boss Sean Payton on Sunday when the Browns take on the New Orleans Saints. While helping lead the Saints to a Super Bowl victory, Williams is forever remembered in a much worse way by Saints fans and needs to have his team ready for Payton’s potential grudge.
When Williams was hired by the Saints in 2009, it was for much the same reason that he was hired by Cleveland in 2017. He was to take one of the league’s worst defenses and help turn them into something to fear by opposing teams.
Williams was able to help turn the Saints defense around in his first season while leading his team to finish second in the league with 39 forced turnovers. That was exactly what New Orleans needed, and combined with Payton’s offense, helped New Orleans get their first-ever Lombardi Trophy.
The duo’s relationship turned sour, however, when it was found that Williams set up a payment system for his players in 2009. It was found that between 20-28 players were being paid by Williams for big hits, especially ones that injured the opposing player.
Bountygate led to Williams being suspended indefinitely and also forced Payton to be suspended for the entire 2012 season due to his alleged knowledge of the payment system. While Payton denied his knowledge, he ultimately lost his battle to appeal and missed the teams 7-9 season, while also forfeiting nearly $6 million of his salary for that year.
Fast forward to the present, and it appears that Payton has not forgotten the consequences Williams brought upon him. While with the Rams in 2016, Williams’ defense met up with Payton’s New Orleans Saints. Payton did everything in his power to embarrass his former coordinator’s defense, throwing haymakers well into the second half while already leading big.
The biggest punch to the gut was when wide receiver Willie Snead threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Saints running back to Tim Hightower, pushing the lead to 28 points.
The play was recognized by NFL.com as a “Can’t-Miss Play” for that weekend’s games.
Williams needs to have this Brown’s defense ready for what is likely to be another grudge match from Sean Payton. While this team is coming off a six-turnover performance against Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees is far more likely to take care of the football and not force the issue.
The Browns defense is young, with some new faces brought in by general manager John Dorsey. But Williams can’t have his defense getting too high on themselves based on last weeks performance that should have led to a win.
You can expect that Payton will take every chance he gets to score any way he can. It’ll be up to Myles Garrett and the other leaders on this defense to step up and try and force Brees into the same type of mistakes they forced Roethlisberger into.
Payton is still holding a grudge against Williams. It will be interesting to see if he has his defense prepared and they can slow down the high powered offense of New Orleans. If they can, then just maybe the Browns can get their first win since 2016.