Twelve years of change, still one Kyle Williams

September 28, 2017

“Bill Kollar. Bob Sanders. Giff Smith. Anthony Weaver. Pepper Johnson. Karl Dunbar. John Blake. Mike Waufle.”

As he sits at his locker after a hotter-than-usual late September practice, unwrapping the tape on his arms and hands, Kyle Williams rattles off the names of every position coach he’s had since entering the NFL in 2006. In chronological order.  

Twelve years. Eight defensive line coaches. Six straight seasons with a new position coach.

For the 34-year old Williams, who’s also endured seven head coaches (counting two interim head coaches) and seven different defensive coordinators throughout his time in Buffalo, change is the norm. But the five-time Pro Bowler doesn’t lament or get frustrated over all the instability he’s been through. In fact, in many ways, he’s used it to make him better while maintaining his own core values as a player.

“I try to take the good things from everybody,” he tells me. “Obviously, you're going to have staples of your game no matter what they are, and my work ethic and the way that I practice I hope is a staple. And then I use input from the coaches, whether it's Bill Kollar, who was my first one, to Coach Waufle now, use the input into my game and how to improve it. I try to take all the good things from all of them.”

Williams won’t single out any particular coach from the bunch that’s had a bigger impact than any others on his career, but he remembers the man who was here when he came to Buffalo as a 23-year old fifth round draft pick out of LSU.

“Really, I appreciate everything that I've had about all those coaches, just because they put a tremendous amount of time in to put me in a good position to help our football team win. So I could never really just single one out. Obviously, I'll always remember Bill Kollar because he was my first one, and we still talk, and I have great relationships with all those guys, including Waufle. So they've all got a special spot for me and hopefully I have a special spot with them.”

Kollar was Williams’ first pro position coach. Waufle is his latest. There’s been a lot said and written - and assumed - about the former Marine since fans watched him getting in faces of his former Los Angeles Rams players while on HBO’s Hard Knocks last year. For Williams, who’s learned from and dealt with all sorts of coaches, what’s Waufle really like behind closed doors?     

“Well, I would say that TV can make anything look a certain way. At times he can ramp it up and be super intense, which we all can. And then other than that he is a teacher. He's a teacher of the game, of technique, of playing the run, of playing pass rush, of our philosophy of defense. It's really been a good a good marriage.”

But like any relationship, there will be god times and tough times. Times you don’t see eye-to-eye with one another. And when you’ve had as many of those “marriages” as Williams has had, there are bound to be some that aren’t quite as harmonious. 

“Yeah, I mean that happens all the time. It's not necessarily that you dislike a guy, but everybody is wired differently. They expect different things. They approach situations differently. Everybody's human and they have their own quirks, so you always have those little nuances that you try to marry-up and become one in the defensive-line room, and I feel like we've done a pretty good job of that.

“Maybe you have some technical issues here and there, but it's all about within the scheme of your defense, it's all about trying to be the best you can be for your team.”

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