Before Bobbie Williams won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and before he was a fixture on the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line, he was a second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. In his four years in Philadelphia, Williams was molded into a reliable guard by an offensive line coach named Juan Castillo.
Thirteen years after he was drafted by the Eagles, Williams remains close with Castillo, as is the case with many of Castillo's former pupils. Williams still has a lot of respect for Castillo, who is now the run game coordinator for the Ravens, and credits him for helping him kick-start a long, successful NFL career.
"I'll tell you what, he's a very stand-up gentleman, a very intelligent man," Williams said in a Thursday phone interview. "He's an awesome coach. He has produced many talented guys -- finding them, working them and building them up. His resume as an offensive line coach definitely speaks for itself, what he did in Philadelphia. He's going to get the best out of you. I am proud to have been coached by him."
Williams is enjoying retirement, spending more time with his family and at his church. He clearly misses being around his old teammates and co-workers, and sends them all his best. He has been keeping tabs on the Ravens from afar -- and the Bengals, whom the Ravens host Sunday -- and he thinks it's only a matter of time until Castillo and the Ravens get their sluggish running game going.
"It will happen. They've got the right guys there to make it happen," Williams said. "Just with a couple more tweaks here and there, as far as scheming and guys getting on the same page, it will be there. The running game will pop wide open, and then it will be like, 'that's the Ravens we know.' "
Williams said that Castillo's version of the zone-blocking running game, which has been scrutinized in recent weeks, is not much different from that they used last season.
"With Juan, it's close to the same fit. It's the zone," Williams said. "You stretch it and you let your back find the hole, which is similar to what Ray [Rice] has been used to. Juan is about producing physical guys up front, guys that are nasty."
Williams believes defenses have done a good job of scheming to slow down Rice and fellow running back Bernard Pierce. He isn't sure how much injuries have taken a toll on the offensive line. And while he said he does not fancy himself a future offensive coordinator, Williams said it would behoove the Ravens to be a little more creative offensively.
One thing Williams made clear, though, is that he feels his former Ravens teammates will find a way to fix what has ailed them, the running game included, and go on a run.
"It's just a little rocky start, but I'm expecting a big finish from those guys," Williams said.