BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Browns' coaching search will start from the inside.
Interim coach Gregg Williams, who led Cleveland to a 5-3 record after Hue Jackson was fired in October, will be the first candidate interviewed by Browns general manager John Dorsey to become the team's ninth coach since 1999 — and fifth since 2012.
Dorsey said Williams will be interviewed Tuesday and added that offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens will be interviewed at a later date.
Kitchens blossomed into a head coaching candidate after being promoted from running backs coach to Cleveland's coordinator when Todd Haley was fired. The likable Kitchens built a strong rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield, who set the NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes.
Mayfield threw 19 TD passes in his eight games with Kitchens.
Dorsey did not reveal the names of any other candidates during his season wrap-up news conference on Monday. He sidestepped a question about former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, saying only "I have a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy and for what he's done." Dorsey spent seven seasons working with McCarthy in Green Bay.
Dorsey did not rule out college candidates and he wouldn't confirm an ESPN report he requested permission to interview Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores. Dorsey did call Flores a "very high-quality young man."
Williams wasn't seen as a long-term solution when the defensive coordinator replaced Jackson on Oct. 29. But after going winless last season and losing 36 of 40 games with Jackson, the Browns played their best football in years under the 60-year-old Williams.
"The one thing with Gregg is I like what he's done in the last eight weeks and I applaud him for that because he's kind of got these guys believing," Dorsey said. "He's brought them in together as one. He's got them playing hard, that's all you can ask for and guys seem to play hard for him and they practice hard and usually, when you play the game of football, you play like you practice — and for eight weeks these guys have practiced really hard."
Williams was Buffalo's coach from 2001-03. He's also known for being suspended by the league for one season for his role in the New Orleans' "Bountygate" scandal.
Dorsey said he wants a "man of character" to be his next coach and that Williams will not be punished for any past missteps.
"I think he's paid his penalty for that," Dorsey said.
Unlike previous years, the Browns don't have to sell their coaching vacancy. Dorsey believes the Browns' job is appealing on numerous levels.
"This is a very desirable franchise for prospective head coaching candidates or any coaches," Dorsey said. "You have a young quarterback. You have a young pass rusher. You have a young team, very dynamic team. I think you have a really good locker room in there. I think you have assets in place with regards to the salary cap, you have assets in place for the draft, you have strong ownership, committed ownership and then you have a committed fan base and there's a bright future with this organization and hopefully they can see what we see here."
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