Browns DC Gregg Williams praises Jabrill Peppers amidst criticism

Submitted by Decatur Jack on September 26th, 2017 at 9:36 AM

The Browns are 0-3 and Jabrill Peppers is getting a lot of the blame from Browns's fans.

Via Dawgs By Nature:

Peppers really hurt us in the first half.
I said when Peppers was drafted — and keeping in mind my Buckeye bias — that I wasn’t thrilled with him being a first round pick, but I thought he had a chance to develop into a Ward-type safety with better athleticism and value on special teams. If they really want to make him a textbook free safety instead, they’re going to do it in practice because he is killing the team right now. This was not a good day in any way for Gregg Williams.
Our defense is trash. I want Williams to stop playing the safeties so deep. It isn’t working. This is the first game where Peppers stood out to me, in a bad way.
His lack of ball skills is problematic.
I figured we’d at least see a few amazing athletic plays to compensate for his noted issues in coverage, but it’s been like we’re playing with ten on defense.

Is it his fault? Gregg Williams, the Browns' defensive coordinator, does not think so.


"I've given every single defensive back a chance to prove that you can be the angel of this defense,'' Williams said. "The angel is the person who covers everybody else up. He's the angel. That's the big picture we have in our defensive team meeting room in the back of the room. Why is it in the back of the room and not in the front of the room? Because you're in the back of the defense and you have to be the angel.''

Williams, as seen in the video above, says even someone in the organization asked him why he's playing Peppers so deep.

"'Because I told him to,''' Williams responded. "If he no longer does what I tell him to do, he's going to be your intern or someone else's intern in the building. He is going to play where I tell him to play, and when you take a look at how well he has played, there have only been four passes thrown farther than 20 yards against us this year a two have been interceptions, one has been an incompletion and one was caught by (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown that still (ticks me off).

"That was a punt. That wasn't a throw. That ball should have been knocked down, carted off or turned over. No way should that pass have been complete. Jabrill is doing very well. He is doing very well.''…

Any Browns fans on the board want to weigh in?



September 26th, 2017 at 9:40 AM ^

From reading between the lines of several impartial NFL analysts, it sounds like the concerns about his coverage skills entering the league have so far been justified. Not saying he won't improve, but it's definitely an area he needs to get a lot better at to stay at safety in the NFL.


September 26th, 2017 at 3:28 PM ^

I've seen a couple of people (mostly citing PFF rankings) saying this, but I've also read some takes such as this one that positioning and issues across the defense have contributed somewhat to the perception that his coverage skills are bad, when in fact they could just be average.  Also, I've noticed a lot more pushback to PFF (note that Brian doesn't use them here anymore), and I think so of that is because they do jump around and, especially in low-frequency situations such as a safety making a play on a deep ball, you can get high-variance result that can skew perceptions.

Peppers is not a cornerback, and he absolutely can get into trouble by taking bad angles.  But putting him the parking lot on some plays and then getting dinging him because a guy was able to get a 20-yard sprint coming at him is a bit unfair as well.  But he also forces QBs out to throwing into the middle of the defense at times, and that has contributed to a couple of turnovers.

He's still a work in progress as a rookie, but it doesn't seem like he's doing too badly for the defense he's put in.  It sounds like a larger argument could be made with how he's deployed, though.


September 26th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

The best comp for Peppers has always been Troy Polamalu, who was almost unwatchable in his first two years with the Steelers (0 starts as a rookie). It can be especially difficult for playmaking types to learn all the angles, and what you can get to.

At Michigan, Peppers had help over the top, so he could flash to the ball--playing right to his talents. He's learning a whole new way to play.


September 26th, 2017 at 10:23 AM ^

I thought about this as I was listening to the video, and I agree - it's not his fault that the Browns (or a different team if they had drafted him) would use him in a way that doesn't exactly cater to his strength as a defender. I think this was something in the back of a lot of minds here, that because Peppers is such a versatile player, that NFL coaches may not utilize him efficiently. 


September 26th, 2017 at 10:18 AM ^

I follow literally everything and everybody pertaining to the Browns on Twitter and I can tell you that the fan reaction to Peppers is NOT negative in the least.   Pro-Peppers here runs about 95% vs anti-Peppers from fans and media alike.

The criticism Williams is defending is directed at HIM, not Peppers.  Many people, (myself included) question lining him up 25-30 off the LOS where his playmaking ability is neutralized to a great extent.  Williams describes as the defensive "angel" but last week when JP missed a tackle and the Colts WR went for a 61 yard TD the noise level on how JP is being deployed went up exponentially.

Browns fans are frustrated that their new toy is not being used correctly by the DC - not that JP is not meeting expectations.  That one fan you quoted notwithstanding.


September 26th, 2017 at 10:15 AM ^

The dude went from playing at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh and now playing in the NFL. Even if it is the Browns. 2 highly respected coaches have determined his upside is on defense not offense. Mike Valenti may think so and im sure a ton her do as well. But you're all wrong. Hes a rookie that could still be playing college ball with all of 3 NFL games experience. He will improve and he will do very well. The kids a football player.


September 26th, 2017 at 11:00 AM ^

From early in his career at Michigan, I felt that he had more upside as a RB. No doubt he was an excellent defender at Michigan, however I always felt that his explosiveness with the ball in his hands was his most unique skill. I would have liked to have seen him get more touches, and not in the wildcat. 


September 26th, 2017 at 10:11 AM ^

Wait, are you telling me that a rookie, playing out of his natural position, hasn't been perfect in the first 3 games of his career? That's literally never happened before... ever... to anyone...


September 26th, 2017 at 10:11 AM ^

Wait, are you telling me that a rookie, playing out of his natural position, hasn't been perfect in the first 3 games of his career? That's literally never happened before... ever... to anyone...


September 26th, 2017 at 10:52 AM ^

Gregg William's comments were made before Sunday's game where Peppers had 1.5 major biffs.  (I personally thought the PI call was pretty lame, but whatever)  And in a game the Browns lost 31-28 those mistakes loom pretty large, so I'm pretty sure that Williams and Peppers have... chatted about them a few times since.

Before we sound the alarm bells though, this was a 1-15 team last year and Peppers didn't lose the game solely on his lonesome.  There are much bigger structural problems with the team than a rookie safety getting burnt by a three-time Pro Bowl WR.  Peppers' natural fit is as a SS in the box detonating screen plays.  But Gregg Williams' scheme requires someone to play as a centerfielding free safety and Jabrill is the best suited guy currently on the roster for that job so it is what it is.  I mean, you learn and move on.  The team that beat us Sunday once had a rookie quarterback who threw about 2479237 interceptions in his first year but eventually cobbled a halfway decent career.

Bottom line is that there are any number of reasons why Jabrill (not to mention any other current pro) may not make it in the big leagues - lack of coverage skills against top-level competition, injuries, not finding the right fit for his talents, etc.  One potential reason that you can absolutely dismiss, though, is a Justin Gilbert-esque lack of fucks given.



September 26th, 2017 at 11:16 AM ^

Otherwise bullshit.  "Ohio People" are in overwhelming support of Peppers and are pissed at the DC's use of him and the presser the OP used was done before the game on Sunday and was Williams defending himself on the  use of Peppers as an "angel" in the defensive set (30 yards off the LOS).

I dont want to turn this thread into anything remotely resembling politics but I do get right now how people could get frustrated by the media.  The OP's title, support quotes, video and conclusions are just flat out wrong yet people who skim them and dont know any of the actual story will be led to an incorrect conclusion based upon them.

Like yours.


September 26th, 2017 at 11:52 AM ^ him to the Lions for Teez Tabor and next year's 1st round draft pick.  Him and Quin would instantly give us a top 10 safety tandem in the NFL, maybe best in the NFC North.

I love Jarrad Davis so far, but I still believe Peppers will be a game changer.


September 26th, 2017 at 12:00 PM ^

As someone who actually watched the game (Colts fan) he was not put into situations to succeed. He's gotten the blame for giving up big plays when it was his CBs that screwed up. He had to cover TY Hilton in space and I love Pep but that's not a matchup he will win often. He was playing crazy far back.


September 26th, 2017 at 12:04 PM ^

And wish he was still playing at Michigan.  But we knew here that his cover skills were unpolished.  I think he will be a very good safety.  He's a rookie and will learn a lot.  These are also Cleveland fans...If they knew how much Peppers studies the game, they would realize his potential is pretty high.

Even better, trade him to the Lions.


September 26th, 2017 at 1:52 PM ^

We've been buying the Peppers koolaid for a long time
Yes, he is definitely an NFL caliber player, but hes no Charles woodson. Jourdan Lewis was always the better player, SPARQ ratings notwithstanding.


September 26th, 2017 at 1:52 PM ^

We've been buying the Peppers koolaid for a long time
Yes, he is definitely an NFL caliber player, but hes no Charles woodson. Jourdan Lewis was always the better player, SPARQ ratings notwithstanding.

The Oracle

September 26th, 2017 at 2:43 PM ^

Peppers has always been overrated by Michigan fans. He was a great punt returner in college, but only good otherwise. Devin Bush has made more big plays in four games than Peppers made in two years. Taking Peppers that high was yet another bad move by the Browns.


September 26th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

Most over hyped player in Michigan history. Sure he did great things but he could have done more and will never be remembered like Denard or Chuck or any of the greats.

That said the Clowns are using him completely wrong. What the hell is this defense where you line up 30 yards away? What are they supposed to do?

But where he has failed and deserves the criticism is in the return game. He's made some terrible decisions on kickoffs and on punt returns all he ever does is fair catch. Then after the fair catch he smacks himself in the head. Cmon take a hit pretty boy.

I was hyped when they drafted him but much like Edwards it's going to be another excuse for Ohio people to hate Michigan.


September 26th, 2017 at 5:42 PM ^

It's remarkable how the Browns keep making changes, as they should when they have a poor product on the field, and continue to fail.

As well as using Peppers in a manner that doesn't play to his strengths, they're throwing DeShone Kizer to the dogs. His confidence is already showing cracks. Why wouldn't they keep Josh McCown (or someone like him) another half-year or year so that Kizer can adjust?

There are probably 31 better teams Peppers could have landed with in the draft.

It may be a stretch, but I've wondered about an Urlacher like role for him. Start him inside. With his instincts, maybe he's a natural defense-runner.


September 26th, 2017 at 6:38 PM ^

Could have used an actual season playing safety, not being a Dick but his ball skills weren't ever great. It may not have been as noticeable at times because he wasn't put in those type of situations much and when he was, he just out athleted (haha) the other guy. Something that is much more difficult to do in the NFL. I hope he makes some progress!