- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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New Orleans fans might want to keep a very close eye on what happens with the head-coaching situation in Denver. There’s a very good chance someone who does not get that job will be running the Saints’ defense next season.
As expected, Denver requested permission Monday to interview New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Coach Sean Payton said permission was granted and Williams will interview sometime this week. The Broncos couldn’t seek permission to interview Williams until the Saints’ season was over and that came with Saturday’s loss to Seattle.
If Williams gets the Denver job, one possible candidate to replace him in New Orleans would be John Fox, who also is scheduled to interview for the Denver job Wednesday. Fox spent the last nine seasons coaching the Carolina Panthers and he and Payton are close friends dating back to the days when they both were assistants with the New York Giants.
Payton said Williams still is under contract for next season with the Saints and the team doesn’t want to lose him. But Payton also said the situation is bittersweet because he wants what’s best for Williams.
“He’s been a huge part of what we’re doing,’’ Payton said. “We have a close staff and guys that understand and are unselfish. It’s about the team; it’s about all of us having success and I think each coach – certainly Gregg – understands that I want what’s best for them. I want them to have these opportunities and I want someday a list of coaches that have all come through here and worked for us and gone on to have success. That’s just a sign that we’re finding the right type of people.
“I think he’s going to have that opportunity and I think he’s going to be very successful when he does have it. Selfishly, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to see it happen on your watch but I also recognize that he’s too good a talent. If there’s any way, shape or form that we can help him, (general manager) Mickey (Loomis) and myself and the group here will help him. I think that’s something that over his career that he has earned. Back to when we brought him in on an interview and I had never met him really or gotten to know him at all personally in the profession, I knew how difficult he was as a defensive coach. I think he’s going to be a great hire for a team that chooses to hire him. He’s someone that I couldn’t recommend highly enough.”