Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams has seriously enhanced his chances of keeping the job on a full-time basis with the club's drastic turnaround under his stewardship, though the Browns will be interviewing other candidates and continuing the coaching search this week.
Williams will formally interview for the job, and the overriding sentiment among the locker room to keep him in place is not lost on Browns ownership or management, sources said. But the organization has been working on finding a long-term successor for Hue Jackson for weeks and has researched upwards of 20 potential candidates before launching the interview process.
Owner Jimmy Haslam has twice tried to hire New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before, and remains very high on him, team sources said. The Browns personnel staff has heard very strong feedback on McDaniels, as well, through its research process, and his candidacy should not be discounted. The Browns are also looking at several college coaches, sources said, along with current NFL coordinators who lack previous head coaching experience.
The Browns run the risk of losing the bulk of a staff that has done tremendous work this season should they not promote Williams to the full-time job. Williams and his son, Blake, have the defense exerting effort and have earned praise for how they have brought along young players like Denzel Ward and Jabrill Peppers. Freddie Kitchens, who took over play-calling duties after Jackson was fired, has done tremendous work with rookie Baker Mayfield and has him playing at an All Pro level in the second half of the season.
A win on Sunday would knock rival Baltimore out of the playoffs and bring Williams' record to 6-2 with the team; Jackson won three games in 2.5 seasons at the helm. Cleveland could also finish with a 4-1-1 division record with a victory – it would be the best within the AFC North – and if not for numerous blown chances and egregious coaching mistakes under Jackson, the Browns would be competing for a division crown.
If nothing else, Williams, who was formerly head coach in Buffalo, has continued to boost his stock for other vacancies around the league should the Browns not hire him. After years of dubious decisions and constant coaching/GM turmoil, Haslam finally has a winning product on the field. Some of his cohorts have advised him to try to keep this staff in place and, while general manager John Dorsey is overseeing the search, ownership will ultimately sign off on any hire.