Gregg Williams finds his poise on game day but struggles to explain why the Browns lost his interim head coach debut in a haunting "same old" way.
CLEVELAND In Hard Knocks, the TV series, Gregg Williams could be a screamer.
In Hard Knocks, unplugged, Williams stood there and took it.
If the Browns are under forceful new leadership, it was hard to tell by Williams' demeanor during his first game as interim head coach, and not at all evident while the Chiefs ravaged his injury-torn defense.
In the re-done Browns' 37-21 loss, Kansas City rattled off touchdown drives of 95, 75, 75 and 75 yards before the third quarter was five minutes old ... against a unit the interim head coach continues to oversee.
At any given moment during the game, one could follow the yard line where Williams was calling the defense across the field to where Andy Reid was calling the offense.
"Andy is a really, really good football coach," Williams said, saying a lot.
He didn't resort to saying, "What was I supposed to do with half my defense injured, against THAT?" What he did ... didn't work.
What did Williams look like as head coach?
His tactical shot at applying G-force was ordering new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to go for it three times on fourth down, and to go for 2 after all three touchdowns.
His demeanor? Early in the week after replacing Hue Jackson, Williams fidgeted. He shifted from side to side in the captain's chair, an involuntary reaction to the million new things on his mind.
In contrast, Williams appeared quite calm as he watched over the final stages of Sunday's pregame warmups. He stood with a fixed gaze, arms folded across his chest like a general's.
Soon there was a sign of the new sheriff had his own way of running the town. Pregame player introductions were scrapped. Smoke, shooting flames, dancing onto the field ... gone. The Browns simply ran as one to their bench.
Williams' communication through most of the game was to unseen people through his headset. He said he talked to "everybody" and that communication was "very, very good."
He was never too far from his son, Blake, his linebackers coach and confidant.
His body language was low key as he moved up and down the sideline clutching a large cardboard rectangle in his left hand.
Baker Mayfield's first play was a complete pass. Williams barely raised his right hand as he made a thumbs up.
The first series reached fourth and 1 at midfield. Without hesitation, Williams made three quick points to the end zone, indicating, "Go."
On third-and-7, directly in front of Williams, rookie Damion Ratley dropped a pass. Williams showed no emotion.
On the first series of defense, Williams sent in a blitz. Linebacker Jamie Collins looked for a gap to shoot. Kareem Hunt slipped out of the backfield with Collins incoming, and was gone on a 52-yard catch and run. Collins headed back to the bench and passed Williams, who quietly tapped him on a shoulder pad.
A penalty changed Williams' demeanor. Too many men on the field. Williams glared as safety Jabrill Peppers trotted off the field. He walked to two assistants and shared some thoughts.
As Kansas City's second drive continued, Williams stood close to his son. Neither of the Williamses changed expression when the drive ended with tight end Travis Kelce catching a touchdown pass.
"I tried to be businesslike at all times," Williams said.
He drove the underlying message through the practice week.
"The big thing was to be aggressive," he said. "Our guys responded in that way. We have to play better in some situations, but we played aggressively."
Williams went for it again when the Browns reached a fourth-and-2, showing no emotion when the Browns made it on a completion to David Njoku. The Browns went on to score. Williams thumped his chest three times and ordered the offense to stay on the field and go for 2.
Williams allowed himself no outburst of anger when a punt was blocked. He was no robot. After an early 51-yard field goal, he sought out Kitchens and patted him on the back.
There was nothing to support and perception he is some kind of wild man.
Football isn't the circus. It is supposed to be entertainment, though. Unfortunately for the paying customers, it was the same act with a new ringmaster.
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP