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Jets finalizing deal to make Gregg Williams defensive coordinator, report says

Gregg Williams, then the Browns' interim coach, answers

Gregg Williams, then the Browns' interim coach, answers questions after defeating the Panthers on Dec. 9, 2018. Credit: AP/David Richard

The Jets targeted Gregg Williams to run their defense and reportedly are moving closer to getting him. According to ESPN,  the Jets are finalizing a deal to bring in Williams as defensive coordinator, which was in the works after the Jets picked Adam Gase as head coach. 

Gase, who was introduced Monday as Jets coach, would not speak specifically about Williams. But Gase said his focus would be on working with Sam Darnold and that he wanted someone to lead the defensive unit.

“I need to spend my time with the quarterback,” Gase said Monday. “Whoever we bring here on the defense has to do a great job of making sure that he’s really the head coach of the defense. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Gase was a guest on Mike Francesa’s show on WFAN Tuesday, but he still wouldn’t speak about Williams because it wasn’t official. He did say he wanted someone with head-coaching experience, which Williams has.

“I want to hire a guy that has plenty of experience and can run his defense and dealing with the parameters of the personnel that we have,” Gase said. “I want to spend my time with the offense.”

Williams was the head coach of the Bills from 2001-03 and ended this season as the Browns' interim coach. He went 5-3 but was let go when the Browns chose offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to be head coach.

Williams, 60, is an aggressive defensive play-caller who likes to keep quarterbacks off balance with his exotic blitz packages. He has been a coordinator for six teams -- the Titans, Redskins, Saints, Jaguars, Rams and Browns. Williams has overseen seven top-10 defenses and was the defensive coordinator when the 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl.

He was suspended by the NFL for the 2012 season for his role in a bounty program during his three years with the Saints that provided players payments for hits that injured opponents.

Gase and Williams never have worked together, and both are considered strong personalities. Williams is outspoken, so it will be interesting to see how this works, but Gase sounded as if he’s looking forward to working with someone with Williams’ personality.

“Whoever it ends up being, I love guys that bring swagger attitude, want to defend every blade of grass, want to make practices competitive,” Gase said. “That’s how it starts. If your practices feel like a game, then you’re going to perform better in the game.”

Williams began this season as the Browns' defensive coordinator and finished up as the interim coach, replacing Hue Jackson in midseason.

Gase also was considering former Broncos coach Vance Joseph to be his defensive coordinator. They worked together in Miami. But the Cardinals hired Joseph as their defensive coordinator Friday.

New York Sports