Gregg Williams was the first candidate interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ opening, but after a nine-day search, the coaching committee went in a different direction with the hiring of interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
Shortly after Kitchens’ impending hiring was reported, ESPN’s Pat McManamon said that the interim coach/defensive coordinator “is no longer with the Browns and will not return.”
Freddie Kitchens’ rise has been meteoric, but his hire maintains continuity for the Browns offense. Defensively, Gregg Williams is no longer with the Browns and will not return, per sources to me and @DanGrazianoESPN … there will be a new staff on that side of the ball.— PatMcManamon (@PatMcManamon) January 9, 2019
Fellow ESPN reporter Dan Graziano followed McManamon’s tweet by saying it was the Browns’ decision to part ways with Williams.
At 2-5-1 following a 33-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 28 and in the middle of an unprecedented midseason coaching staff upheaval following the dismissals of Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley with eight games left to play, the 2018 Browns looked to be anything but a team capable of the greatest year-to-year turnaround in franchise history.
However, Williams led the Browns to a 5-3 record over the second half of the season and a three-game winning streak in December secured the greatest turnaround in team history, as they finished plus-7.5 in wins over last year’s winless campaign.
With a 26-18 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on December 23, the Browns finished off their first regular-season sweep of an AFC North Division opponent since 2002.
In addition to breaking a 16-year drought of two wins in the same season against the Bengals, the Browns finished the home portion of the schedule without a loss against an AFC North Division opponent for the first time ever.