Gregg Williams

Jets Rumors: Gase, Harbaugh, McCarthy

The Jets’ coaching search technically started with the firing of Todd Bowles on Dec. 30, but they were mulling their options much earlier than that, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. Although Bowles had a contract through the 2020 season, the Jets started doing their homework in mid-November after an embarrassing 41-10 home loss to the Bills.

Despite their denials, the Jets had early interest in Jim Harbaugh, Vacchiano hears. The Jets did background work on the Michigan head coach, but ultimately concluded that he wasn’t the right fit, possibly due to his desire for too much power, too much money, or a lack of desire to leave Ann Arbor.

Here’s more on how the Jets’ coaching search unfolded, plus other news out of New York/New Jersey:

  • The Jets started asking around about Mike McCarthy after he was fired by the Packers in December, but they were concerned about his sensitivity to criticism and how it might be amplified by the New York press, Vacchiano hears. There were also reports that McCarthy would consider sitting out the 2019 season, which may have given the Jets additional pause. McCarthy’s interview was not bad, per se, but Vacchiano hears that he did not hit it out of the park.
  • Adam Gase, on the other hand, leaped over McCarthy with a strong interview in which he displayed the energetic personality that the Jets wanted. Even though Gase went 23-25 in three years with the Dolphins, the Jets did not forget about his reputation as a hot offensive assistant just three years ago, Vacchiano writes.
  • New Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has agreed to a three-year deal with the club, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Before the Jets hired him, the Redskins made a push to land him as their DC.

Redskins Pursued Gregg Williams

The Redskins went hard after defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). However, Adam Gase and the Jets wanted Williams more and they landed him on Tuesday

Williams didn’t have teams knocking down his door with head coaching offers, but he did draw interest from multiple clubs with DC vacancies. He’ll forever be associated with the Saints’ Bountygate scandal, but teams are clearly not bothered by his role in that fiasco. And, in time, it’s not hard to envision Williams getting a crack at head coaching jobs if things go well in New York.

Lost in the midst of the Williams talk is that the Redskins actually have a defensive coordinator. Greg Manusky is still under contract, but it’s sounding more and more like they’ll be making a change before the start of the 2019 season. Manusky, 52, has been with the Redskins since 2016 and has served as their DC since 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Hire Gregg Williams As DC

The Jets are finalizing a deal with former Browns’ interim head coach Gregg Williams to become their defensive coordinator, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Williams was the defensive coordinator the Jets were targeting no matter who their head coach was, Schefter adds. 

The Jets have denied pushing certain assistants on candidates Matt Rhule and Mike McCarthy. Whether you choose to believe the Jets on that front is up to you, but it appears that they had a heavy hand in marrying new head coach Adam Gase and Williams.

Williams was widely mocked during the year for his assertion that several teams wanted him as a head coach. He may have been pumping himself up a bit, but things improved on both sides of the ball during his eight-game run as the Browns’ interim coach in 2018. Ultimately, the Browns chose interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens as the man to run things going forward, but Williams managed to boost his stock a bit in the latter half of the year.

With the Jets, Williams inherits an iffy defense, but one that has potential in the secondary and a solid defensive lineman in Leonard Williams. The Jets have no real pass rush to speak of, but they hope to change that with upwards of $100MM in cap room.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Working To Hire Gregg Williams As DC

The Jets are negotiating to hire Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator under new head coach Adam Gase, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Williams has interest from other clubs, and if the deal with New York doesn’t get done, he could take an interview with the Redskins, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. 

Williams, 60, took over as the Browns’ interim head coach following the firing of Hue Jackson, and subsequently lead the club to a 5-3 finish. A former head coach with the Bills and a defensive play-caller for a number of NFL clubs, Williams handled a Cleveland defense that ranked near the the bottom of the league in scoring and yardage, but still finished 12th in DVOA, meaning the team was efficient overall.

Other candidates for the Jets’ DC gig have been mentioned, but Williams appears to be the heavy favorite. Former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was potentially in the running, but he’s the new defensive play-caller for the Cardinals. Former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was also identified as a possible candidate.

Jets Interested In Gregg Williams, Chuck Pagano

Former Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams is in consideration for the Jets’ defensive coordinator position under new head coach Adam Gase, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Jets’ list also includes Chuck Pagano, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

The Browns went 5-3 under Williams in the second half of 2018, but the Browns gave most of the credit for that to offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who was promoted to the role of head coach this week. After Kitchens was bumped up, the Browns and Williams parted ways.

Williams was widely mocked for last year’s assertion that several teams wanted him as a head coach, but there’s no denying that he is a highly-respected defensive mind. The Jets have serious holes on defense – specifically, their pass rush – but there is an opportunity for Williams to thrive in New York with players like safety Jamal Adams and $100MM+ in expected cap room to address areas of need.

Pagano’s name has surfaced again in the latest coaching cycle and he interviewed for the Packers’ and Broncos’ top jobs. At this stage, he’s realistically only in the running for lower staff positions. Aside from the Jets’ reported interest, the Panthers are set to meet with him to discuss their defensive backs coach position, according to Mike Florio of PFT.

Browns Part Ways With Gregg Williams

The Browns chose Freddie Kitchens as their next head coach on Wednesday, temporarily leaving interim head coach Gregg Williams in limbo. That’s no longer the case, as Williams is out in Cleveland and will not return, sources tell Pat McManamon and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Williams is a highly-respected defensive mind, but the Browns will go with a new staff on that side of the ball as Kitchens puts the bulk of his focus on the offense. It’s not clear whether the Browns entertained bringing Williams back as their defensive coordinator (which was his role before the in-season firing of Hue Jackson), but in any case, it’s unlikely that Williams was interested in a role reversal with his former assistant.

The Browns went 5-3 under Williams in the second half, but the Browns are putting more stock into Kitchens’ impact on the offense than Williams’ defensive management or leadership. At this stage of the coaching cycle, it’s unlikely that Williams will garner consideration for the remaining head coaching vacancies, but he should be a top candidate for open DC jobs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching Search

A flurry of head coaching moves have been made last night and this morning, but one team already had a significant head start on the process. The Browns were the first team to move on from their coach, firing Hue Jackson after eight games, and have had a while to formulate a plan. The team went 5-3 after moving on from Jackson, and might have the most attractive opening of any team with Baker Mayfield looking like a star in the making.

The Browns’ first step in the process will be to interview Gregg Williams tomorrow, GM John Dorsey revealed at a press conference this morning, per Pat McManamon of ESPN (Twitter link). Williams is the interim coach right now and although he isn’t expected to land the full time job, Cleveland’s strong play down the stretch certainly earned him consideration. Dorsey also said that offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who has drawn rave reviews for his work with Mayfield, will get an interview although he wasn’t sure when that would occur.

Meanwhile, the Browns have also requested to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Flores is in his first year calling plays, but is highly regarded around the league and was a candidate for the Cardinals’ job last year. The Browns are also expected to interview former Titans head coach and current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). We heard earlier this morning that the Broncos have interest in Munchak as well, who’s earned a ton of praise for his work with the Steelers and is instrumental in Pittsburgh and far more influential than your average offensive line coach.

We first heard late last night that the Browns had reached out to Mike McCarthy, and while he wouldn’t confirm anything, Dorsey certainly didn’t throw cold water on the rumors. Dorsey said he has “a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy and what he’s done”, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Dorsey also praised Kitchens, saying the first time coordinator has “done [a] wonderful job developing [a] relationship with” Mayfield, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal (Twitter link).

As soon as Adam Gase was fired by the Dolphins, he was immediately linked to Cleveland. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets that Gase going to the Browns is a “very real possibility”, and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network followed up with a tweet saying Peyton Manning, a very close friend of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, is a “big fan” of Gase. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk tweeted that Haslam “aggressively pursued” Gase five years ago, “but Gase decided to wait to become a head coach.”

The Browns have also put in a request to interview Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Campbell has been a popular darkhorse candidate for some jobs, and impressed during his brief stint as the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015. In addition to Campbell, Rapoport tweets they requested an interview with Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.

Two last candidates for the Browns are Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets that the Browns have submitted an interview request for him, and Colts offensive Nick Sirianni is also on their interview list Pelissero tweets separately. Adam Schefter followed up on Pelissero’s report by tweeting that while the Browns do want to interview Eberflus, they won’t be able to this week with the Colts playing a playoff game this weekend, and the same presumably goes for Sirianni.

Cleveland will be one of the most buzzed about teams in the coming days and weeks, and we should know a lot more about their intentions soon, and they’re clearly casting a very wide net. At this point, it still seems most likely that they’ll pursue an offensive coach to pair with Mayfield despite their reported interest in Flores and Eberflus.

North Coaching Rumors: Fitzgerald, Harbaugh, Bengals

We heard last night that the Packers are interested in Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and now there is some fire for that smoke, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Green Bay is expected to request an interview with Fitzgerald after Northwestern plays in tomorrow’s Holiday Bowl. It is unclear whether Fitzgerald will accept the interview request, but Packers CEO and president Mark Murphy was Northwestern’s athletic director when Fitzgerald was hired as the Wildcats’ head coach in 2006, and the two men have a great deal of respect for each other.

Now for more coaching rumors from the league’s north divisions:

  • Schefter reports that at least one team that is considering a head coaching change is also considering calling the Ravens about a potential trade for head coach John Harbaugh if Baltimore is eliminated from postseason contention today, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) says multiple teams are thinking about making a run at the 11th-year HC. The Ravens announced earlier this month, despite weeks of rumors to the contrary, that Harbaugh would remain in Baltimore in 2019, but his future with the club still does not feel like a slam dunk. Florio suggests that Baltimore would want at least two first-round picks in exchange for Harbaugh.
  • No one is sure what will happen with Marvin Lewis and the Bengals, and his assistant coaches are actively trying to find out, per Florio. Some believe Lewis will retire from coaching and begin a broadcasting career, while others believe he could become a candidate for the Cardinals‘ head coaching job. If Lewis moves on, Florio writes — as has been reported numerous times — that Hue Jackson would be a candidate to replace him, as would current Vikings head coach (and former Cincinnati DC) Mike Zimmer. Zimmer would perhaps be interested in the Bengals’ gig, per Florio, but much would depend on whether Minnesota would let him leave and if the Vikings would demand significant compensation in exchange.
  • The Vikings will likely attempt to promote interim OC Kevin Stefanski to the full-time job in 2019, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The problem is that Stefanski is only under contract through 2018, so Minnesota may have to fight to retain him.
  • We heard several weeks ago that Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams has a chance to get the “interim” tag removed, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Cleveland will indeed give Williams serious consideration (though the team will obviously interview other candidates and continue its full-blown search). Ownership remains high on Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, but if the team does not give Williams the full-time job, it will risk losing the bulk of the staff that has led the Browns’ promising turnaround this year.
  • Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter‘s contract is up at the end of the season, per Rapoport, who suggests that it would be a surprise if Cooter remained in Detroit in 2019. The 34-year-old is expected to be a highly-coveted OC candidate assuming he and the Lions part ways. Unsurprisingly, Rapoport says head coach Matt Patricia is safe [SOURCE LINK].

Gregg Williams Has A Chance To Remain Browns’ HC

Since taking over as the Browns’ interim head coach after the team fired the much-maligned Hue Jackson, Gregg Williams has put together a 4-2 record and even has Browns fans dreaming about a playoff push. That chatter increased after the team’s exciting win in Denver last night, and Williams’ stock is rising as a result.

Most interim coaches in Williams’ situation get a perfunctory interview for the full-time gig, and it was expected that Williams’ interview with the Browns this offseason would be no different. But in light of the team’s success under his watch, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Williams’ interview with team brass will be a “real one” that could end with his getting the job.

Phil Simms of the CBS Sports Network believes Williams has a “really good” chance of staying on as the Browns’ head coach in 2019 (video link), though NFL insider and former ESPN reporter Ed Werder hears from a Browns source that Williams has a small chance, but a chance nonetheless (Twitter link).

Williams previously served as the Bills’ head coach from 2001-03, though his club put together a 17-31 record during that time with no playoff appearances. He will always be remembered for the infamous Bountygate scandal during his time as the Saints’ defensive coordinator, but he remains a well-respected defensive mind and he has seemingly developed a good rapport with Browns OC Freddie Kitchens, who is getting plenty of praise for his work since being promoted to the role at the end of October.

Williams could also return to Cleveland as the defensive coordinator, but if he does not get the head coaching job with the Browns, he may prefer to look elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Patriots, Jaguars, Packers, Browns

In 2017, Browns defensive coordinator and now interim head coach Gregg Williams made a strong push for the team to take Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick rather than take a quarterback.

On Friday, he reiterated that stance, saying he would still take the standout defensive end over quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Trubisky, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“Yes, I would,’’ said Williams. “I really like (Garrett). They had me evaluate the quarterbacks, too, and they had me evaluate a lot of the top players on the other side of the ball. You do good things like that in successful organizations. Get the opinion of a defensive guy on an offensive guy. Get the opinion of an offensive guy on a defensive guy. You are trying to find all of the little itty bitty things before you make the final decision, I think those are important.”

Regardless of what he would or wouldn’t do, it looks like the situation is going to work out well for the Browns. Instead of taking a quarterback a year ago, the team tabbed Baker Mayfield with the top spot and have recorded the same amount of wins this season as the previous three combined (four).

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Though the Packers need to win out and get plenty of help to get to the playoffs, team CEO Mark Murphy wrote in a week Q&A on Packers.com that he is not ready to give up on the season. “Now, I realize that we are 4-6-1 (and as Bill Parcells famously said, “You are what your record says you are”) and that we haven’t played well. However, we still have almost a third of the season left to play. I know that the odds of making the playoffs are slim (I’ve seen odds range from 3 to 15 percent), but we still have a lot to play for.” Like the odds say, there isn’t much left on the line unless the team can get hot and get some help.
  • Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone‘s firing of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett at this point of the season seems like a diversionary tactic to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “It feels like an effort by Marrone to alter the conversation that inevitably will happen when owner Shad Khan, who had a taste of life in the NFL’s penthouse in 2017 and has taken the Super Fun Happy Slide straight back to the outhouse, starts asking tough questions after Week 17.” 
  • The Patriots need to re-sign defensive end Trey Flowers, NESN’s Doug Kyed writes in a mailbag. “They either need to bring back Flowers, take a player high in the 2018 NFL Draft, sign a free agent (pass rushers are not cheap) or trade for a veteran edge defender. Isn’t the simplest option just to bring back Flowers?”