Why the Browns Should Keep Gregg Williams, and Must Keep Freddie Kitchens

On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling discussed plenty of coaches, including why Gregg Williams should keep the job in Cleveland…

GARY: Greg Williams. What do you think, Andy?

ANDY: I’d keep him.

GARY: At the time of our taping, the rumor is they’re going to have a meeting with Mike McCarthy, or they’re interested in him, or something vague like that.

ANDY: The problem is I want to keep Williams because of the personality fit and the way this team finished the season, but it’s hard to gauge someone’s personality. I met Gregg Williams one time—his handshake was very soft by the way, which caught me off-guard. John Dorsey is around him everyday, he knows the temperament and nature of this team. It’s hard to gauge personalities, but from afar, it looks like the head coach and his personality and his assistants and the way all that chemistry’s working with Baker Mayfield, it went very well in the second half of this season. That’s obvious from afar. The question is how much of it is just the momentum of a mid-season change and something new. What’s it like once Gregg Williams is running the show for the entire offseason and these guys get used to his voice a little bit? That’s the stuff that we don’t know, that John Dorsey is going to have to figure out there.

I would tread lightly on the idea of changing the offensive side too much, because I think Freddie Kitchens, if he’d been there all year, doing what he did the second half of this season as their coordinator, if he’d been calling plays in the first half like this, I’d probably vote him Assistant Coach of the Year.

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GARY: Let me play devil’s advocate really quick before we move on, because I do think Gregg Williams should stay at this point. And that is not something I ever thought I would think—at any point in my life—advocating for Gregg Williams to get another head coaching job, but I do think he should stay. But these linebackers drive me nuts in Cleveland. Williams obviously is a defensive coach, he oversaw this defense. Is there something to be said for hitting reset on that side of the ball and trying to bring in a defensive guy and a new defensive staff to work with that side of the ball, and simultaneously trying to retain Freddie Kitchens as the de factor offensive head coach?

ANDY: I think there’s something to be said for that. My priority if I’m the Browns is: 1) Keep Freddie Kitchens, 2) Find the right head coach, in that order. If that means a new defensive guy, I’d be fine with it. We won’t get a chance to talk much about the Packers since they played a horrible game against Detroit today. I did end up watching that Jets-Packers film that I was dreading—what occurred to me is Green Bay substitutes their defensive backs so much and they do so many different things. That’s not a defense that has gotten better over the course of the year, versus teams like Dallas and Indianapolis and these simpler schemes. One of the lessons I’ve learned this year is the advantage of having a clear, tightly defined identity as a defense versus a do-everything, “We’re gonna throw the kitchen sink at ‘em.” I take the clear, tight identity.

I’m only saying this because I have never thought Gregg Williams’s defenses ever had that clear, tight identity. Their identity is “we do a lot of things, we’re gonna throw the kitchen sink at you.” Unless you’re the Ravens, and even the Ravens have a pretty buttoned-up scheme in a lot of ways, I just don’t think that works in the NFL anymore. I don’t think there’s enough practice time to play that way. If I hire someone, I want someone that’s going to run a simple, speed-based scheme for my young defense in Cleveland.

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