Allow me to start by stating the obvious: The Jets defense hasn’t been good in recent memory. Apart from one outlier year (2015) where they ranked 9th in scoring playing a soft schedule, the Jets defense has not finished higher than 19th in the league in scoring defense since 2010. For an organization that has hired defensive-minded coaches for two decades, those results are less than desirable. Thoughts on Adam Gase aside, a switch to an offensive-minded coach in today’s game was all but a necessity. Following his hire, Gase immediately stated that his focus will be solely on the offense and Sam Darnold, thus furthering the need for a quality defensive coordinator that can be the “Head Coach” of the defense. Enter Gregg Williams. The controversial and outspoken Bountygate coordinator comes to New York with a plethora of experience and attitude.
In addition to his fiery, no-nonsense approach, Williams’ resume is quite extensive. His experience in the NFL began in 1990 with the Houston Oilers as a defensive assistant while also coaching special teams and linebackers. When the Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997, Williams became their Defensive Coordinator. He has been a defensive coordinator for six different teams: The Oilers/Titans, Redskins, Jaguars, Saints, Rams, and Browns. He has had two head coaching jobs in his almost 30-year NFL career with the Bills (2001-2003) and then as Interim HC with the Browns in 2018.
In his seventeen years as a DC, Williams’ defenses ranked in the top half of the league in scoring ten times. His defenses also finished in the top half of the league in takeaways eight times – most notably when he took Cleveland from the bottom in 2017 to second in 2018. In thirteen of those years, Williams’ defenses ranked in the top half of the league in penalties – cracking the top ten in seven of those years (this should peak all Jets fans’ interest).
Williams may be best known for his role in the Bounty Scandal, or “Bountygate,” where he was ultimately suspended by the NFL in 2012 for paying his defensive players for injuring members of the opposing team and forcing them to leave the game. He was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in bountygate during his tenure with the Saints. Additionally, there have been alleged claims by other NFL coaches that he ran similar systems with the Bills, Redskins and Oilers/Titans.
There is no question that Williams intensity is unmatched. His aggression is evident in his coaching style, play-calling, and persona. He believes in the mantra “Live on the edge. Play on the edge. Don’t hurt this team.” He expects effort. He will not be shy about telling players or coaches his thoughts. He demands a lot from his defense, from his staff, and from himself. If you need further proof, YouTube any clip from his time on Hard Knocks.
Williams’ hire is not unlike Gase’s: it’s a big swing. He has a huge ego and a controversial past. The possibility of a clash between he and Gase is very real, but is it worth the risk? Gase needed a head coach of the defense. The defense needed someone with swagger that can hold them accountable. The Jets got both. Someone with a proven track record and notable authority.
For a defense that has been routinely undisciplined, underwhelming, and has continuously folded in big moments, Gregg Williams is a welcomed change of pace that can come in and tell whoever he wants to put their you-know-what’s in the A-Gap.