Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson announced that Gregg Williams will join the team as defensive coordinator. Williams replaces Ray Horton, who has been relieved of his duties.
Williams has coached in the NFL for 26 years, including three as a head coach and 15 as a defensive coordinator. His defenses have finished in the top five in total defense five times, including the top defense in the NFL in 2000. Williams also oversaw a Saints defensive unit that won Super Bowl XLVI and a Titans defense that advanced to Super Bowl XXXIV.
“We are thrilled that Gregg Williams is joining our staff as defensive coordinator,” Jackson said. “Gregg has been an outstanding defensive coach in this league for a very long time. His defenses have frequently finished among the top ten in the league. He adapts his scheme to maximize the strengths of his personnel and has always been able to get the most out of his players. We look forward to him coming in, helping our players improve and helping us become the winning team we are all working towards.”
“It’s very exciting for me to become part of the Cleveland Browns organization and join Hue Jackson's coaching staff,” Williams said. “I have so much respect for Hue having competed against him in this league for so many years. We're looking forward to getting to work.”
Williams spent the last three seasons (2014-16) as the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. He helped oversee the development of 2014 first-round pick DT Aaron Donald. Donald was voted the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl all three seasons under Williams.
He served as senior assistant defensive coach in Tennessee in 2013 and helped the team make significant improvements in nearly every defensive category. The Titans improved in points per game (16th from 32nd), total defense (14th from 27th), pass defense (11th from 26th) and third down defense (7th from 21st).
Williams served as defensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2009-11. He helped the Saints advance to the postseason all three years, capture division titles (2009 and 2011) and win Super Bowl XLVI. During his three seasons in New Orleans, the Saints posted a 37-11 regular season record, tied for the best in the NFL during that span. In 2010, the Saints allowed the fewest touchdown passes (13) in the league. In his first season with the Saints, he was in charge of a unit that recorded 35 defensive takeaways and returned seven for touchdowns.
He spent one season (2008) with Jacksonville as defensive coordinator/assistant head coach following four seasons (2004-07) as assistant head coach/defense with Washington. The Redskins had one of the NFL’s top defenses over that span, allowing just 19.4 points per game and ranking sixth overall in defense during the four-season stretch. In 2005, the Redskins’ defense was a key factor in the club making its first postseason appearance since 1999.
Prior to joining the Redskins, Williams spent three seasons (2001-03) as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, where the defense improved each season. The defense improved from 21st in 2001 to 15th in 2002 to second in 2003.
Williams joined the NFL ranks in 1990 and spent 11 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans working his way up from defensive quality control coach (1990-92) to defensive coordinator (1997-00). He also served as special teams coach (1993) and linebackers coach (1994-96). In 1999, he helped the Titans advance to Super Bowl XXXIV. In 2000, Tennessee led the NFL in total defense for the first time in franchise history and allowed 191 points, the third-fewest in league history since the adoption of a 16-game schedule in 1978. The Titans also set club records with 55 sacks, fewest passing yards allowed (2,424) and fewest touchdowns allowed (17).
Prior to arriving in the NFL, Williams was a graduate assistant at the University of Houston from 1988-89. From 1984-87, Williams was the head coach at Belton (Mo.) High School after opening his coaching career at Excelsior Springs (Mo.) High School. Williams graduated from Truman State University, where he played quarterback and also played baseball. He later earned a master’s degree from Central Missouri.