Gregg Williams

Kevin O’Connell Serious Candidate For Redskins’ HC Job

Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is expected to receive serious consideration for the team’s head coaching post, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes. O’Connell, 34, has been with Washington since 2017, and this season is his first as the Redskins’ OC.

Before Washington elevated him from passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach in January, O’Connell garnered interest from multiple other teams. For all of the Redskins’ problems, they have had a number of young and talented coaches rise through their ranks — Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur, and Kyle Shanahan, to name a few — and apparently there is a belief that O’Connell can follow in their footsteps.

Washington is near the bottom of the league in points per game and yards per game this year, but the offense is largely bereft of talent at the skill positions and along the O-line, so it would be difficult to hold the performance of O’Connell’s unit against him. As Maske notes, the real question will be whether O’Connell, interim HC Bill Callahan, or an outside candidate will be best-suited to maximize Dwayne Haskins‘ potential.

Owner Dan Snyder has not had much problem luring big-name head coaches to the nation’s capital; the problem has been making it work once those coaches arrive. Plus, team president Bruce Allen could be an obstacle. One of Maske’s sources, an agent who represents coaches, said that no coach worth his salt will accept an HC job with the Redskins as long as Allen is in charge of personnel.

In addition to O’Connell, Maske names Gregg Williams, Marvin Lewis, and Mike McCarthy as big names who could attract Snyder’s interest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Brown, Jets, Texans

We first heard earlier this week that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown had been involved in some sort of domestic dispute last month. Shortly after details came out, and Brown was accused of having shoved his daughter’s mother to the ground, with the NFL announcing they would investigate. Brown denied any wrongdoing, and today his attorney pushed back even further. Brown’s lawyer forcefully denied Brown did anything wrong, accusing the mother of being in the wrong in the situation regarding Brown’s daughter, and said Brown did not get violent in any way, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (Twitter link).

The lawyer also elaborated that Brown is now filing for custody of his daughter in court. It’s yet another dramatic chapter in the saga surrounding the Steelers, and while the situation is still very murky as of right now, we’ll almost certainly have more details soon.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Speaking of organizational drama, the Jets have found themselves in a mini controversy of their own. It was reported a few days ago that there was already some tension between new head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, as the team objected to Williams bringing his son Blake Williams onboard as a coach. While the team eventually relented and added the younger Williams as a defensive assistant, the drama doesn’t end there. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com has a great breakdown of the situation unfolding, as Gase hired his own father-in-law Joe Vitt as an assistant coach as well. Vitt and Williams have a longstanding beef, as both were members of the Saints’ coaching staff during the infamous bountygate scandal. According to Cimini, Vitt testified against Williams during the league’s hearings on the scandal, and accused him of lying. They’ll now be serving on the same staff together again, and it’ll be very interesting to see if the bad blood has been put to rest.
  • Last week, the Texans promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator. Head coach Bill O’Brien has called plays in the past, but O’Brien left the door open for Kelly to call plays during a recent radio interview, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). “There’s no doubt in my mind that Tim Kelly is ready to call plays”, O’Brien said, before adding that it would be “a collaborative effort.” Kelly was previously the team’s tight ends coach.
  • In case you missed it, suspended Patriots and Raiders receivers Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant may apply for re-instatement in the next couple of months.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Jets

Following the Patriots‘ third Super Bowl title of the decade, they again have their legendary quarterback going into a contract year. Robert Kraft is on board with another Tom Brady extension, but no talks have commenced yet, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Brady has never played into a contract year. While some uncertainty existed around Brady’s place with the Patriots last offseason, Breer adds the key parties are on good terms this year. The 41-year-old quarterback said before Super Bowl LIII he was not going to retire, and an extension would bring down his $27MM cap number. Brady signed team-friendly deals in 2013 and ’16 around the Combine those years.

With the quarterback market finally making big strides over the past year and change, Brady’s demands could justifiably increase. Brady’s historic contributions to the franchise notwithstanding, Bill Belichick may not be wild about a possible $30MM-AAV contract for Brady that runs into future Hall of Famer’s mid-40s, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran offered during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). Of course, with the Patriots an annual title contender and no heir apparent in place, it would seem unthinkable a Brady pact does not get done this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Although Ryan Tannehill is not expected to return to the Dolphins, GM Chris Grier said no decision has been made on that front. The Dolphins are expected to trade or release Tannehill, and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson tweets a photo of the seven-year Dolphin quarterback has been removed from their press room. Grier wants input from Brian Flores and his new staff on the 30-year-old quarterback, but the Dolphins are expected to move on from their six-season starter. With an eye on the 2020 quarterback class, they are not believed to be targeting a high-priced free agent to replace Tannehill, either.
  • Armed with nearly $100MM in cap space and a GM potentially on the hot seat, the Jets make sense as Le’Veon Bell‘s buyer. While one report indicated New York won’t use a bank-breaking approach to land the All-Pro running back, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes the Jets are still zeroed in on Bell. The soon-to-be 27-year-old back is still believed to prefer the Colts, per Vacchiano, but Indianapolis may not view him in the same light.
  • Some turmoil has already hit Gregg Williams‘ new team. Mike Maccagnan and Adam Gase initially did not view Blake Williams as a hiring priority for the Jets’ defensive staff, and this irked Blake’s father, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. Gregg Williams was frustrated with Maccagnan and Gase, but the new Gang Green DC won out, with Blake Williams signed on as linebackers coach. Blake upset some Rams staffers during his time as St. Louis assistant, before being fired after the 2013 season, Cimini notes, adding the young coach has developed somewhat of a polarizing reputation.
  • The Jets may have an issue trading Leonard Williams, with a $14.2MM salary due, but Vacchiano points out the general consensus around the NFL is the 2015 top-10 pick has been misused in New York. With the Jets moving to a 4-3 look under Gregg Williams, Leonard Williams is not a lock to be back. Of course, Gregg Williams may view the former 3-4 defensive end as a weapon in his scheme. The Jets are light on surefire front-seven talent, so their new DC might want some capable veterans to stay.

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.