Gregg Williams

© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Browns complete interview with Gregg Williams for head coaching job

Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy to interview Thursday according to report

January 2, 2019

Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – While many celebrated the ringing in of the new year with friends and faimily, general manager John Dorsey and the Browns kicked off their search for the next head coach for the franchise.

Gregg Williams received the first interview on Tuesday, but he’s not going to be the last.

“I want to hear his thoughts on the team moving forward, but I also want to be able to explore multiple options out there in the National Football League and just see who fits for this organization moving forward,” Dorsey said Monday. “There may be some guys out there we don’t know about yet. I just want to explore all options and make the best decision for this organization.”

The interview with the 60-year old Williams was completed by Tuesday evening.

Dorsey, who has formed an internal search committee and is leading the search at the behest of owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, plans to cast a wide net and interview several candidates before narrowing the field.

Williams took over as interim head coach on Oct. 29 after Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired and he led the Browns to a 5-3 finish over the second half of the season.

“I like what he's done in the last eight weeks and I applaud him for that because he's kind of got these guys believing,” Dorsey said. “He's brought them in together as one, he's got them playing hard, that's all you can ask for and guys seem to play hard for him and they practice hard and usually, when you play the game of football, you play like you practice and for eight weeks these guys have practiced really hard.”

Williams believes he’s made his case to be the ninth full-time coach in the expansion era and fourth under the Haslam ownership since 2012 with the work he did over the final 8 games.

“What questions are you going to ask me that I haven't already shown,” Williams said Sunday night in Baltimore following a 26-24 loss to the Ravens. “We'll see.”

Williams went 17-30 from 2001-2003 as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He was also suspended for 1 season by the NFL for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ ‘Bountygate’ scandal in which Williams was heard on tape advocating for his players to pool prize money together and win it by injuring opponents.

Dorsey is a believer in second chances, and he feels Williams is deserving of one.

“I think he’s paid his penalty for that,” Dorsey said.

So why not just hire Williams and maintain some stability heading into 2019?

“I want to be able to see everything,” Dorsey said. “That's why you want to sit down and talk with him and see his plan and see his vision. But I think you don't want to sell yourself short. Why not go see other people out there, too, just to see? Because you want to do your due diligence. And we talk about doing our due diligence and what's best for this organization. Why not go and look at everybody?”

Dorsey and the search committee are also expected to interview Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell. Both Patriots coordinators – defensive coordinator Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels – could also be on Cleveland’s radar.

The Browns will also interview former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on Thursday according to ESPN. The team is not commenting on any scheduled interviews. 

Williams isn’t worried about having to compete for the job.

“This is 30 years, so I’ve been through a lot of these steps,” Williams said. “Again, what I’ve also said to you all before, ‘Don’t ever worry about me being afraid to compete.’ Competing, it is what it is. So, we will take the next step and see.”

Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who previously was the running backs coach prior to his promotion after the firing of Haley, will also receive an interview with Dorsey and his search committee but it is unclear just when that interview will take place.

“I think he’s earned that,” Dorsey said. “He’s done a nice job in his role as offensive coordinator and I think this organization wants to get to know him a little bit better and we’ll eventually get him in an interview slot.”

Kitchens has been credited with helping Baker Mayfield, who set franchise rookie records for passing yardage and the NFL record for the most touchdown passes by a rookie in just 13 starts, transform his first NFL season into a success.

If Williams doesn’t earn the Browns job, he believes he’ll be considered for one of the seven other openings around the league.

“Yes, there is word on the street that, possibly, yes,” Williams said.

But his preference is to remain with the Browns.

“I really like this young team,” Williams said. “I turned down multiple jobs to come to Cleveland. I really wanted the opportunity to come here. I really love living in Cleveland. I love the people in Cleveland. I have tremendous memories of coming up to the old ‘mistake by the lake’ stadium. Everybody called it that back in the late 80s early 90s. The crowd and the environment.”