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Gregg Williams says respect for Hue Jackson drew him to Cleveland

Before Gregg Williams accepted an offer to be the Browns' defensive coordinator, he took careful note of how head coach Hue Jackson handled the lows of a trying and disappointing 1-15 season.

"I watched every one of Hue's postgame interviews," said Williams, who joined the coaching staff earlier this month. "All 16 weeks this year. I went back and watched that before I got on the plane.

"It ain't easy standing up there talking to you so you can spread the word when you pour every single ounce that you have into a week and now you get out there in those three hours and it doesn't come out the way you want it to come out. And now you're getting ready to lead those young men again next week. It's not easy. How he stood up and did what he did meant a lot to me."

Williams, who met with reporters Thursday afternoon in a wide-ranging, spirited news conference, outlined his decision to come to Cleveland and his plans to elevate the Browns' defense into one of the league's best.

It starts with a respect for Jackson, whom Williams will team up with for the first time. "I've never had the opportunity to work with Hue personally on the same team, in the same program in the same organization but I've had the opportunity to coach against him and go against him in a lot of different places," he said.

"I can tell you which offensive coaches write everything on a chart and call the game on a chart and I can tell you which offensive coaches lay it down and say, 'Let's go — come get some.' And Hue's one of them. And Hue will coach with a defensive mentality and that toughness aspect of it and I've really respected him because of that."

Williams, a 26-year NFL veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, approaches with a similar fire in his belly. He's tasked with molding a youth-laden group that finished 31st in total yards and points surrendered. 

Williams-coached defenses have finished in the top five in total defense five times, including the top defense in the NFL in 2000. Most recently, Los Angeles finished ninth in total defense last season.

Williams is known for aggressive defenses that play to the strengths of its personnel. It starts with accountability in the meeting rooms, in workouts and in practice.  "We've got to stir the emotions and stir the culture on being more competitive," he said. "And once we're more competitive, maybe we'll be lucky enough to be in a position to win."

Everything is documented and evaluated. Williams likes to say "every day is an interview" and, "If you're not willing to reprove yourself every single day" then "somebody else is waiting to sit in your seat."

But it's also important, he said, that Cleveland's defense is something of a reflection of Jackson's offense. "Hue and I have to play a complementary style," Williams said, referencing the differences in his units over the years, be it with the Rams or in New Orleans where he won a Super Bowl in 2010. "Hue and I have to be on the same page."

Williams spent time during his 45-minute sit down with reporters reminiscing on visiting Cleveland's Dawg Pound back in the late 1980s and 90s. He also couldn't help but look toward the future as the Browns dive into the offseason and a draft where they own five of the top 65 selections, including the first and 12th overall picks.

But most of all?

"I'm here because I respect Hue Jackson, I really do," Williams said.

"And I think it's gonna be fun."

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