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New DL coach Terrell Williams talks defensive philosophy, why he came to Detroit

INDIANAPOLIS – Terrell Williams joins the Lions for his 27th season in coaching and 13th in the NFL as Detroit's run game coordinator and defensive line coach. He is one of the most respected defensive coaches in the league.

"Dan (Campbell) and I have talked for years about having an opportunity to work together," Williams said Tuesday at the Combine. "When this opportunity came it was an easy decision for me. I'm thankful to the Tennessee Titans for allowing me to get out of my contract because that was a tough conversation because they were great to me over the last six years, and I planned on moving forward with them.

"But the opportunity to get with Dan and Brad (Holmes) and AG (Aaron Glenn) and those guys and work for this organization. And my wife has family in Detroit. And then my son with hockey. The hockey part was bigger than you think. It was a huge, huge part of me coming here to Detroit."

Williams' son Tahj is a terrific young AAA hockey player at 12 years old. He's joining one of Detroit's elite hockey programs, and giving him that opportunity ended up playing a big role in Williams' decision to come to Detroit.

Over the last six seasons Williams has developed Tennessee into one of the most consistently good defensive fronts in football.

"I think he's the best d-line coach in the league," Campbell said of Williams. "I think he knows how to develop. He's got experience in game planning and he's going to be beneficial for our guys up front."

The Titans allowed the fewest rushing yards per game (76.9) in 2022 and allowed the lowest rushing average (4.0) and fourth fewest rushing yards (10,044) in the NFL during Williams' six-year stint in Tennessee. He's developed countless young players, including the Titans' Jeffery Simmons, and is looking forward to working with some of Detroit's young talent upfront.

He's inheriting some good young talent in Detroit, led by Pro Bowler Aidan Hutchinson, and a front that helped Detroit record the second best run defense in the NFL this past season.

Williams said his philosophy to playing football in the trenches is simple.

View photos of the defensive line prospects who were invited to the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

"Violent. That's it. I'm not going to give you a dissertation about, 'Hey, we have to do this and that.' We have to play violent, and we have to play with effort," he said. "The violent element of it is a big part of playing that position. You want guys that accept that. You have to accept that.

"That's just what that position is. It's a violent high collision position and you have to play with effort and if you can't do that then you're going to have a hard time playing. I haven't seen very many high-level starters that aren't violent players. That just doesn't work. It doesn't go hand in hand."

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