Gregg Williams was named the Browns defensive coordinator on Jan. 7, 2017. Williams has coached in the NFL for 27 years, including three as a head coach and 16 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 XLIV and a Titans defense that advanced to Super Bowl XXXIV.
In his first season, the Browns defense made significant improvements in many categories. The Browns, who finished 31st in the NFL in both total defense and rushing defense in 2016, ranked 14th in total defense and seventh in rushing defense in 2017. Cleveland recorded its best finish in rush defense since 1992 and held opponents to a 3.35 rushing average. That figure was the second-best by a Browns team in a season, second in the NFL in 2017 and fifth in the NFL since 2009.