What should the Browns do with Gregg Williams?
Yes, he’s an interim coach, having been elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach when Hue Jackson was fired two months ago.
Yes, he has been a head coach before with less-than-impressive results — a 17-31 record in his three seasons with the Bills from 2001-03.
Yes, he was the central figure in that controversial “Bounty Gate’’ that got him suspended by the league for a year back in 2012.
Yes, he’s a defensive-minded coach and the Browns’ most important player is rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who will need more grooming from an offensive coach.
But Williams — certainly with the help of Mayfield, who has completely energized what had been a dead franchise before he was inserted into the lineup — has helped lead the Browns to a 5-2 record since he was put in position to lead the wayward team.
A Cleveland win over the Ravens in Sunday’s season finale would give the Browns an 8-7-1 record, which would be their first winning season since 2007, when they went 10-6 but missed the playoffs.
The Browns, who were still alive for a playoff berth last week, last qualified for the postseason in 2002.
So Williams has overseen the resurrection of a franchise that went 3-13 in 2015, 1-15 in 2016, 0-16 in 2017 — 4-44 in the past three seasons — and was floundering when Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired.
If nothing else, Williams, who was considered a complete afterthought as the Browns’ next full-time head coach, has made the decision a bit more complicated for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager John Dorsey about whom to hire going forward.
Do they reward Williams and interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens by removing the interim tags and committing to them long-term?
Do they do what many have speculated they would do all along, which is explore bringing Packers formers head coach Mike McCarthy in to take over?
Or do they turn to the hot offensive coordinator of the moment and believe that coach can help further develop Mayfield?
The pool of hot head-coaching candidates is rather shallow entering this offseason, which could help Williams. McCarthy appears to be the only candidate with a successful head-coaching resume and it looks like some seven teams, including McCarthy’s former team, the Packers, will be seeking a new head coach this offseason.
Among then, the Jets, who are expecting to fire Todd Bowles after the season, are believed to be interested in McCarthy.
Baker Mayfield finally tells truth about Hue Jackson stare down
So much for playing dumb. Speaking to the media Wednesday,…
The most realistic scenario is Haslam and Dorsey exploring McCarthy and perhaps others in an effort to further develop Mayfield, who has had a terrific rookie season with 24 TD passes, which is third-most by a rookie since 1970. Mayfield has led the Browns to a 6-6 record in the 12 games he started.
Part of Mayfield’s development, though, has to be attributed to Kitchens’ work with him, and there’s a lot to be said about continuity as a powerful tool in a young quarterback’s development.
But McCarthy’s 125-77 career record as a head coach with one Super Bowl title and nine playoff appearances, as well as his work with quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, is too strong a track record to ignore.
Whatever happens, whoever is fired, whoever is available and whoever might be interviewed, Williams has made a strong case for himself to remain in Cleveland and carry on what he started two months ago. Because there hadn’t been a lot of winning going on there until he took over.