Adam Gase officially became the Jets head coach Friday and he already appears to be targeting his first big hire.
Gregg Williams is a strong possibility to be Gase’s defensive coordinator with the Jets, a source confirmed Friday. The controversial Williams would be an interesting choice for the Jets. Best known for his role in the Bountygate scandal in New Orleans, Williams is an outspoken, aggressive coach who would bring an attacking style of defense but also could ruffle some feathers.
The 40-year-old Gase agreed to a deal with the Jets on Wednesday, but the contract was not finalized until Friday afternoon, when the Jets announced him as their new head coach. He is the 17th full-time head coach in team history and the 19th counting interims.
Gase will have an introductory press conference at 2 p.m. on Monday.
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“At the onset of the interview process, I wanted to hire a head coach who was the right person and the right fit for our organization,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “We talked to a number of excellent candidates and it became clear to me that Adam was the person who will help us establish a winning program and a winning culture.”
The Jets picked Gase after interviewing eight candidates for the job. They chose the former Dolphins coach over former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Baylor coach Matt Rhule.
The Jets liked that Gase had previous NFL head-coaching experience and felt he would be a strong teacher for quarterback Sam Darnold, who is entering his second year.
“Adam is a young, creative mind, but he also has 22 years of coaching experience. He is an innovator whose path saw him succeed at both the college and the NFL levels,” Johnson said. “He has helped a number of different quarterbacks, at various stages of their careers, reach new heights. We think Sam will continue to develop under his tutelage, but we made the decision because of Adam’s vision for the entire football team.”
A big question for an offense-minded head coach is who his defensive coordinator will be. It appears that Williams could be that guy. Sources said it is likely, but nothing has been finalized yet.
The 60-year-old Williams has been a defensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL for 20 years. He was most recently the interim head coach of the Browns, leading them to a 5-3 record after taking over for Hue Jackson. Williams was a candidate for the permanent job in Cleveland, but they chose Freddie Kitchens instead.
Williams has worked for seven different teams, including a three-year stint as head coach of the Bills, going 17-31. He joined the Browns in 2017 as defensive coordinator. Last season, Cleveland finished 30th in yards allowed and 21st in points allowed. He has presided over top 10 defenses in yards seven times, most recently in 2016 with the Rams. He has led top 10 defenses in points five times, most recently with the Saints in 2010.
In 2012, Williams was found to have overseen an illegal bounty program that paid Saints players for injuring opponents. He was suspended for the 2012 season, returning in 2013 with the Titans in a senior assistant role and then joining the Rams in 2014 as their defensive coordinator.
If Williams is hired, it will mean a style change for the Jets, who have run a 3-4 defense under their last three head coaches dating back to 2006. Williams runs an attacking 4-3 defense. That could lead to personnel changes for the Jets and a shift in their plans for free agency and the draft.