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Why is Gregg Williams still in the league?

Headhunter hasn’t had to job hunt

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

On Sunday, Doug Pederson will go up against Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Jets are terrible at everything, so this is far from a marquee matchup. It shouldn’t be a contest.

I don’t mean that it shouldn’t be a contest in the “the Eagles should blow them out” sense. If anything, I’d put a few bucks on a backdoor cover. I mean that it shouldn’t be a contest because it’s inexplicable why Gregg Williams has a job. Doug Pederson should be calling plays against literally anyone else.

The first thing you think of when you think of Gregg Williams is Bountygate, and you should. In case you forgot, Williams started a fund to reward his players for intentionally injuring opposing players when he was the Saints defensive coordinator. As if that was bad enough, it was also revealed that he did the same thing when he was the Redskins defensive coordinator, and that as head coach of the Bills he had a precursor system that rewarded players for knocking out opponents. In the league’s investigation into these allegations, he lied about it. Only when he ran out of room to deny it did he admit to it.

For this he was rightfully suspended by the league.

For a year.

Despite Williams admitting that he had lied to investigators, Roger Goodell readmitted Williams because he had accepted responsibility. Despite Williams rewarding players for injuring opponents, Roger Goodell readmitted Williams because he said he’d help teach safe play. In the case against the NFL actually caring about player safety, Williams reinstatement is Exhibit A. Perhaps the conversation would be different if Williams was immediately contrite, or if he spent his year away from the league trying to make amends. But he did neither of these. The league would not be worse off if Williams was made an example of and had not be allowed back.

Gregg Williams continued employment would be understandable, though not justifiable, if he was producing strong defenses. But he isn’t. Since returning from suspension Williams has, after one year as an assistant with the Titans, overseen mediocre defenses.

Gregg Williams Defenses

Year Team Points Yards Turnovers Adj. Sack % 3rd Down Red Zone DVOA
Year Team Points Yards Turnovers Adj. Sack % 3rd Down Red Zone DVOA
2014 Rams 16th 17th 14th 15th 27th 22nd 9th
2015 Rams 13th 23rd 10th 17th 32nd 23rd 7th
2016 Rams 23rd 9th 23rd 28th 32nd 25th 15th
2017 Browns 31st 14th 32nd 17th 28th 25th 16th
2018 Browns 21st 30th 2nd 21st 27th 6th 12th
Avg 21st 18th 16th 20th 29th 20th 12th

Gregg Williams’ defenses aren’t hard to score against (and in the red zone are quite easy to score against), they aren’t hard to move the ball down the field against (and are abysmal on third down), they don’t generate a lot of turnovers, they don’t get to the QB… they’re just not good. These are results that get you sent back to being a position coach. His defenses prior to Bountygate weren’t much better.

And yet with that resume the Jets hired him. With the Bountygate baggage, the Jets hired him. Either one of those is reason enough to not hire Gregg Williams. But on Sunday he’ll be on the sideline. The Jets aren’t the only ones who should be embarrassed. The Titans, Rams, and Browns all hired him, and Cleveland even made him interim head coach last year.

Maybe he was right about how popular he is.