The New York Jets added old-school defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to the coaching ranks alongside newly-appointed head coach Adam Gase.
Williams, 60, won a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator of the 2009 New Orleans Saints. Williams is most known for his involvement with the Bounty Gate scandal when he allegedly paid Saints players bonus for injuring opponents. The NFL suspended him for the 2012 season..
Williams started last season as the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. He took over as interim head coach midway through the season after the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
New Direction for the Jets
Owner and CEO Chris Johnson fired Todd Bowles after a 24-40 record in four seasons. The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2009 and are desperate for a change.
After a quick search that included interviews with USC OC Kliff Kingsbury and ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the Jets tapped ex-Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase to take over as the next Jets head coach.
“I probably need to spend my time with the quarterback,” Gase told reporters in his first press conference as new coach. “That’s why, whoever we bring in here on defense has to do a great job of making sure he’s really the head coach of the defense.”
The Jets were interested in hiring Gregg Williams as their next defensive coordinator the entire time. Although Gase and Williams never worked together before, the Jets were in a situation where they needed a DC with strong leadership abilities.
Although the rosters and philosophies varied over the years, Williams’ defenses were always hard-nosed and relentless competitors. With Gase focused on transforming Sam Darnold into an elite quarterback, Williams is tasked with preparing the team for battle against the top teams in the AFC including their rivals, the New England patriots.
4-3 in NYC
Jets have long history of hiring defensive-mind coaches. After six in a row, the Jets reversed direction and sought an offensive-minded coach to help mentor young franchise QB Sam Darnold.
Former head coach Todd Bowles ran a 3-4 defense. Williams is renowned for his 4-3 schemes. The Jets roster will quickly adapt and then Williams will fill in the rest of his needs via the upcoming draft.
The Jets have the third overall pick. There was talk about the Jets trading down to acquire additional picks. However, with Williams at the helm, the Jets will pursue a defensive lineman or edge rusher with their high pick.
WHO IS GREGG WILLIAMS?
Hometown: Belton, Missouri
College: Truman State
Coaching Record: 22-34
Teams as Head Coach: Bills, Browns
Teams as DC: Oilers/Titans, Redskins, Jaguars, Saints, Rams, Titans, Browns
Super Bowl Titles: 1 (2009 Saints)
Most Famous For: Bounty Gate
Williams won his only Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009. Their fierce defense coupled with Drew Brees’ arm propelled the Saints to a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
During the 2012 offseason, the NFL suspended Gregg Williams for his participation in the Bounty Scandal during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
From 2009 to 2011, including their Super Bowl run, Williams and other coaches awarded bounties to defensive players if they injured and knocked out opposing players. Knockout bounties tripled during playoff games. The practice had been commonplace at other organizations over the years, but this was the first time it became public knowledge.
The Minnesota Vikings first claimed the Saints were playing dirty and extra rough during the NFC Championship Game. The Saints were purposely trying to knock QB Brett Favre out of the game.
After a thorough investigation, the NFL suspended Sean Payton for the 2012 season. They suspended Williams indefinitely, but he would be reinstated after missing only one season.
Williams returned to coaching in 2013 as an assistant coach with the Tennessee Titans. He reclaimed a DC position when Jeff Fisher and the Rams hired him in 2014.
Winning in Cleveland
Williams replaced Hue Jackson after the Browns fired Jackson midseason. As interim head coach, Williams went 5-3. Overall, the Browns emerged with a strong defense ranked #12 in DVOA.
Williams won five games for the Browns with a team that had previously went 0-16 the prior season. Instead of rewarding Williams with a contract, the Browns offered the full-time gig to Freddie Kitchens. The former Browns QB coach took over as offensive coordinator when the Browns fired Jackson and OC Todd Haley. Kitchens had a strong rapport with rookie QB Baker Mayfield, who flourished under Kitchens’ direction.
Williams got his first head coaching job back in 2001 with the Buffalo Bills. He finished with a 17-31 record from 2001-03 before the Bills decided to not renew his contract.
Williams is one of those long-time coordinators that turned down multiple head coaching positions because they love and prefer to coach one specific side of the team.