New Jets coach Adam Gase said he wanted a strong leader to coach his defense. It looks like he’s found one.
Former Browns interim coach Gregg Williams is finalizing a deal to become the Jets’ next defensive coordinator, according to an ESPN report.
Gase was introduced as head coach Tuesday and explained what he was looking for in a defensive coordinator.
“I’m sure that everybody’s in the same boat,” Gase said. “I probably need to spend my time with the quarterback — and that’s why whoever we bring here on the defense really needs to do a good job of making sure he’s the head coach of the defense and that’s really what we’re looking for.”
Williams would certainly fit the criteria. He was the interim head coach for the Browns this season after Hue Jackson was fired. Before that, he was the defensive coordinator. He has 20 seasons of experience as either a head coach or coordinator.
Here’s what Williams will bring as the defensive coordinator.
A proven track record
Cleveland was ranked 12th in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders last season and 16th in 2017; Williams was the Browns defensive coordinator before taking over as interim head coach when Hue Jackson was fired.
Williams went 5-3 as interim head coach for a Cleveland team that had gone winless in 2017. The Browns chose offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to be their next head coach last week, passing over Williams. Now he’s found his landing spot.
An intriguing personality
Williams is one of the best known assistant coaches in the NFL . He intense, competitive and charismatic — as anyone who watched Hard Knocks could see. He’ll add an edge and confidence to the Jets defense that has been missing as they’ve muddled through the past few years.
He’s also not afraid to speak his mind in press conferences, which will surely be fun in the biggest media market in the world..
There is some talent on the Jets’ defense. Safety Jamal Adams had a breakout sophomore season to make the Pro Bowl. It’ll be fun to see how Williams and Adams mesh.
Meanwhile, Leonard Williams, the sixth pick in the 2015 draft, has struggled to live up to that billing but has clear talent. Perhaps Williams can get more out of him.
It’s still too early to say how good the Jets are going to be next season. There are too many holes to fill. But with Williams, they will be more fun and interesting.
Track record with a key piece
Williams has a history with one of the Jets’ key defensive pieces: cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Williams was the defensive coordinator for the Rams from 2014-16 where he helped Johnson become one of the better cornerbacks in the league.
Johnson had the worst season of his career in 2018, after signing a five-year, $72.5 million contract to join the Jets as a free agent last March. Perhaps Williams can help Johnson regain his good form.
Williams started his career as a high school head coach, and after a stint at the University of Houston as a graduate assistant, he joined the Oilers as a defensive assistant. He landed his first defensive coordinator job for the Oilers/Titans from 1997-2000.
He was the head coach of the Bills from 2001-03, where he went 17-31. He was also the defensive coordinator for the Redskins (2004-07), Jaguars (2008) and Saints (2009-11).
Williams was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his leading role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. He returned in 2013 as a Titans assistant, joined the Rams as defensive coordinator from 2014-16 and landed in Cleveland in 2017.