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BLACHE: Intense New Coordinator Knows How to Push Players

By Jason Reid

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, January 27, 2008; D01

After executing his assignment well on a play during an exhibition game against the Baltimore Ravens in August at FedEx Field, Washington Redskins rookie defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander sprinted toward the sideline to connect with defensive line coach Greg Blache. Alexander figured he would receive high marks from Blache.

"Let's just say he . . . oh, man, he let me have it," Alexander said yesterday. "I did a good job on the play, yeah, but he wanted me to actually make the [tackle]. I took it with a grain of salt because it's tough love. It's not like it's a bad thing. He just wants you to do better than even you think you can. That's the way he is. That's just Coach Blache."

The Redskins yesterday promoted Blache, 58, the team's defensive line coach the past four seasons, to their top defensive position.

Blache was traveling yesterday and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. During the season, Blache always declined comment to the media on all matters, citing his desire to retain a low profile.

Blache replaces assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, who was let go yesterday. Although Williams was the leader of a defense that produced three top-10 finishes the last four seasons, Blache, in his 21st season in the NFL, played a key role in devising and implementing game plans each week, many players and team officials said.

And Blache, a successful defensive coordinator for five seasons with the Chicago Bears before joining the Redskins, also is considered a good teacher, having tutored many Pro Bowl players, including Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher. Intense and vocal, Blache is among the league's most intimidating coaches, players said, pushing them to achieve even more than they envision for themselves.

But he also is highly respected for his knowledge and commitment to his players, which is why many in the organization are pleased Blache will return next season. Williams had strong support from players to be the team's next head coach, and some are disappointed he won't be back, but retaining Blache helped lessen the blow.

"You know how good of a coach Gregg Williams is and you know what he's done for this team," defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. "He's been there for us and had our back. We've had some solid defenses, we were ranked in the top 10 three of the last four years, so we've proven what type of a defense we were with Gregg Williams as our coach.

"But if we couldn't keep Gregg as defensive coordinator, you need to have a guy like Greg Blache in that job. If there's one person you would want to come in and take Gregg's spot, and keep this thing going, it would be Greg Blache. He's somebody that's already in the system. We're just happy that they kept Coach Blache."

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Ive been a fan of Blache from day 1. It will be interesting to see what kind of defense we see with him in control.

Will it be the D he ran in Chicago before he came here? WIll it be a continuation of Williams' D? Or a combo of the 2?

I think he's a smart guy though, and I think he'll put the team and the skillsets of the players first. In other words he doesn't strike me as someone who is married to a particular system, determined to run it no matter what

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I've been a fan of his as well. I think he's similar to Gregg without the interest in attention and without the issues with higher ups.

Seems like some of the players are in a preferable situation. But of course only D-Linemen are quoted, so they should be happy.

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what area of the Redskins team improved most in 2007?

it was the defensive line, the unit that perhaps had LESS money spent on it this past offseason than any other.

Blache worked for 4 years to get production from a unit that was at one time undermanned and lacking in experienced depth.

Now we have two young DTs working into a nice rotation with Cornelius Griffin and Andre Carter had a resurgent year with 10.5 sacks on the outside. He also improved noticeably against the run this past year.

Jerry Gray was another in-house candidate qualified to take the DC job, but it was probably a case of him being too close to Gregg Williams to feel comfortable taking the position in wake of what just transpired.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Gray ask for and receive permission to go elsewhere when the new HC is brought on board.

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wait, I'm remembering something...

Wasn't Blache ALREADY our D Coordinator? I'm pretty sure he was.

GW had the title "Asst Coach, D", and Blache was D Coordinator.

hmmm, sounds like they just gave him a bump in pay, that's all.

You are correct as far as the titles are concerned. At first I was thinking that nothing new had actually happened, but clearly he will be the ultimate leader of the defense now.

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At least there will be continuity here. I like Blache and the players like him and I think he will do well. And he has a pretty good staff around him. I will miss Gregg though. :(

Come to think of it, I dont think Ive ever even hear Coach Blache speak...

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I just don't see the entire defense being put in the hands of Blache with no veteran help on the staff. GW had Blache, Lindsey, and Gray to bounce things off of for the most part. Blache would have maybe Gray in terms of experienced assistants to help him formulate and run his gameplan. I fully anticipate then the HC having a defensive background meaning either Spagnuolo or Schwartz.

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