I just don’t see it. I know the results he drove. I know the turnaround he helped lead. I know how well he impacted the team.
Despite that, I can’t realistically see a scenario where Gregg Williams has the ‘interim’ label removed from his job title. I don’t see the concept of Williams being kept as head coach of the Cleveland Browns coming to fruition.
Before diving into why I feel this way, it’s only fair to point out why many Browns fans will be upset about the idea of Williams not being retained as Cleveland’s coach.
Yes, he was given an extremely unenviable task of taking over the Browns in the wake of Hue Jackson’s firing. Back then, the team was in the middle of an ugly losing streak, and any hope of a solid season was circling the drain.
In the time after, Williams not only had the team playing better, he had it on the verge of a playoff berth. The Browns went from 2-5-1 to 7-8-1, suddenly becoming one of the most entertaining teams in the league. Rookie QB Baker Mayfield began to thrive, the offense started humming and, suddenly, Cleveland was finally being taken seriously.
In the end, Williams more than earned the right to plead his case to be retained as head coach. GM John Dorsey clearly recognized this, granting him the first interview of the offseason.
Unfortunately, odds don’t favor Williams getting much further than that.
The basis of my thinking comes from the fact that, while he got first dibs in the interview process, the Browns have since gone on to meet with additional candidates. They’ve spoken to interim Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, as well as former Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell. They’re set to interview New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell Friday, and recently-fired Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy next week.
Bottom line – what’s the point of interviewing so many other candidates if Williams is the favorite to win the job? Outside of complying with the Rooney Rule (which the team did when speaking with Caldwell), there’s really no purpose to interviewing a slew of other coaches if Williams is the pick.
I’d completely understand someone suggesting this is all some elaborate smokescreen from Dorsey. After all, every move he’s made as GM seemingly surprised the NFL world. He kept his draft picks secret until the day he made Mayfield his first overall selection, and there wasn’t the slightest rumor to find ahead of every trade he’s made over the past year.
Knowing this, some may think it’s not a stretch to assume Dorsey is just putting up another bait-and-switch, teasing the world into thinking he’s going to hire someone else before handing the keys back to Williams.
However, this theory is tough to get behind.
For one, assuming this to be true requires believing Dorsey told Williams during their meeting that he was his pick, right before asking him to sit tight for a couple weeks while he knocks out a handful of other interviews to put up a good front. While I know Cleveland’s GM loves a good smokescreen, this one would be too aggressive.
You could also claim Dorsey is keeping everyone on an even playing field before he weighs his options and makes a decision. In this scenario, sure, Williams would certainly still be in the running.
My counter here would be, well, why even do that if Williams was a serious candidate? You know what you have in him, you’ve seen him work with your players. There’s very little mystery when it comes to what he brings to the table.
In fact, keeping Williams as a top candidate at this point just sets up a situation where the Browns end up settling at head coach. They’d be going out and meeting with other coaches, only to go back to Williams and say, “well, we couldn’t find a better option, the job’s all yours I guess.”
Call me crazy, but I don’t think Dorsey handles his biggest decision as Browns GM in that manner.
There’s always a chance I’m wrong here, that Williams is indeed fully in the running. However, if we’re looking at how this situation is playing out, the odds of him winning the job look incredibly slim.