NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Jets may not have hit a home run among fans with their choice of new head coach, but there’s sure to be universal approval of the guy they apparently just got as defensive coordinator.
A day after Adam Gase was introduced as the 19th head coach in franchise history, the Jets reportedly reached an agreement Tuesday with Gregg Williams to be their top defensive assistant.
It’s a power move considering all the questions that will continue to swirl around the 40-year-old Gase, who was hired after going 23-25 in three seasons as the lead man in Miami. Williams, 60, is largely considered one of the best defensive minds in the NFL. For the last 21 years, his units have finished in the Top 10 in fewest yards allowed seven times.
Perhaps as important, Gase said Monday he wanted to hire someone who could be the “head coach of the defense.” Well, in addition to his prowess on that side of the ball, Williams has head coaching experience, having piloted the Buffalo Bills from 2001-03 and acted as the interim head coach of the Cleveland Browns for eight games this season after Hue Jackson was fired.
Williams’ defenses are notorious for their physicality, as evidenced by the infamous “Bountygate” scandal in which the New Orleans Saints were found to have paid out bonuses to defensive players for injuring opposing players. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the entire 2012 season and Williams, who was the team’s defensive coordinator, was suspended indefinitely. That ban was overturned the following year without any further repercussions for Williams, who continues to be one of the most sought-after coordinators in the league.
Williams will likely install a 4-3 scheme, replacing the 3-4 that was run unsuccessfully for much of Todd Bowles’ four-year tenure as head coach. The Jets finished 25th in total defense in 2018, allowing 380.4 yards per game, and their scoring defense, 27.6 points per game, ranked 29th overall.
The aggressive nature of Williams’ scheme is all about the one thing the Jets have struggled to do with any consistency for as long as anyone can remember — apply pressure on the quarterback.
The Jets are expected to have $100 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason and it’s a sure bet a good portion of it will be used to find players that fit well in Williams’ plans. They could also use the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft to find a pass rusher.
So with Williams now in tow, the Jets have two key assistants in place, the other being special teams guru Brant Boyer, whose contract was reportedly extended after he transformed his unit into one of the best in the NFL. While the Jets struggled both offensively and defensively in 2018 on their way to a 4-12 record, their special teams flourished, as evidenced by the Pro Bowl seasons of kick returner Andre Roberts and placekicker Jason Myers.
In addition, Kris Kocurek and Frank Bush are expected to follow Gase from Miami to the Jets, SiriusXM’s Alex Marvez reported. With the Dolphins, Kocurek coached the defensive line, while Bush worked with the linebackers.