DC Joe Woods (1.14.21)

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On CB Denzel Ward looked yesterday in the first day back at practice:

“He looked good. We had to hold him back a little bit, just on a rep count. We wanted to be smart in terms of how we are bringing him back. He looked good. Moved around good. I feel like he will be ready to go.”

On defending Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and Hill’s speed:

“Fortunately for me or maybe unfortunately for me, I coached against those guys in Denver for all of those years I was there so I know what I am dealing with. They have a very explosive offense. They have elite players at all of their skill positions. In particular with Tyreek, I just feel like you have to have a mix of coverages. There are different things you have to do just to give them different looks. If you are in a position to play man, you just have to go play man and you have to try to play your technique and put hands on him. He is hard to deal with, and we will have a couple of things to put ourselves in the best position we can.”

On Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and how Mahomes affects the team’s defensive gameplan:

“Still trying to figure it out (laughter). He is unbelievable. He is definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the league, obviously by what he has done. He has the arm strength to make all of the throws. He sees it all. He is mobile in the pocket. Whether he is moving to his right or left, he can make accurate throws and crazy throws and have success. We have to be at our best with our rush plan, just in terms of trying to keep him in the pocket and effecting his ability to throw the ball on time.”

On defending with the Chiefs run offense:
“You have to be sound. That is the thing you have to kind of pick your poison which is tough because they have a lot of different things you deal with. You have to be sound situationally based off of what you see on tape or the run game can get away from you. We played them years ago, and they had (RB) Kareem Hunt. Now, they moved on and they have good backs. They have a bunch of backs who can beat you. We just have to be sound based on what we see on tape and based on situations.”

On if he reviews Super Bowl LIII tape for this week’s preparation:

“I have watched that game once. It is kind of tough to watch, but they are explosive. That is the thing is you can hold those guys down. I think we held them down pretty good unit 6:57 seconds left in the fourth quarter to be exact, and they went off. They have the ability to do that at any point in the game. Again, we are going to have to play our best game just to have a chance to compete and win against these guys.”

On how have Browns players have bounced back this week in preparation following last week’s emotional win:

“They have come back. I feel like we have an attitude of like ‘we can do this,’ like we are deserving of being in the playoffs and we won a game, and I feel like it is giving them more confidence. In each game, the NFL week to week is about matchups. I just feel like we have more confidence just being able to go to Pittsburgh and find a way to win against our rival. They are fired up. We just have to keep working and be ready to go this weekend.”

On if he has seen Browns players’ belief in themselves all season:

“That is the way we tried to build it. When (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski came in just in terms of what he was trying to do to change the culture, it was all about working, just staying focused and doing your job. We carried that through with our defensive identity. I always tell the guys it is about going out, just playing hard and doing your job. If you do your job and you play hard, you are going to put yourself in the position to make plays. Throughout the season when we did have some success and we created some takeaways, I feel like the guys feed off of that. The beginning of that game and that first quarter, I have never been a part of anything like that. It was crazy. I am glad I was on that side of it.”

On LB B.J. Goodson playing through injury:

“He has been great for us. Ever since we got him here, he has tried to step up and be the leader of the defense. He is truly the quarterback of the defense when he is out there. Veteran experience, he has helped the younger players around here. I think there is confidence when he is out there on the field. It is good. I know he fought through getting banged up a little bit and he is doing that throughout this week, but he will be ready to go on Sunday.”

On if he has ever seen a QB be able to throw from such different arm angles like Mahomes:

“It is unique with him. There have been a couple of quarterbacks to have that type of arm talent. I have coached against very few, but like (Pro Football Hall of Fame QB) Brett Favre, those type of guys and (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers. That is who he kind of reminds you of. The challenge is the plays are going to be extended. I talked to the guys, we are going to have to cover him twice – the initial route and then when he is on the move. When he is scrambling, he will throw it all the way across the field. Just unbelievable talent. We are going to have to be at our best against these guys.”

On conversations on the sideline with the Browns defense early in the game and if that helped the team rally throughout the game to create more takeaways:

“That is a big emphasis for us. It is part of our identity is just trying to create takeaways. When we create takeaways, it has put us position to win games throughout the year. When it started, it was just like a frenzy. It was just like everybody wanted to get in on it. Fortunately for us, we had a couple of changeups with them that worked in the first half where we got some takeaways. I felt like the guys had confidence in the plan, and it just kept rolling with each play that we made. It was great to see.”

On S Karl Joseph’s fumble recovery for a TD on the first play:

“It was bouncing around because at first you thought they were going to recover it and then you saw a bunch of guys – (DE) Myles (Garrett) running – and then the ball is bouncing around and you are looking like ‘Who is on it?’ All of a sudden, you see guys come up and raise your hand then you start going crazy with everybody on the sideline. It was awesome to see. Awesome for him. Awesome for our defense. Awesome for our team just to get off to that start.”

On Browns players stepping up throughout the roster to make key plays, including in last week’s game:

“That is what the year has been about. I talked to you guys earlier when the season started, I just felt like it was going to be the year for everybody to contribute, just based on what we were going through. Throughout the season, we played multiple guys. We were shorthanded – players and coaches – and just for those guys to step up and make big plays to help us, it was just awesome to see. It just felt truly like it was a team win.”

On the importance of red zone defense when playing a team like the Chiefs:

“You do not want to let them down there, but like you said, maybe they make it down there and you want to make sure you keep the touchdowns off the board. If you can hold them to field goals in those situations, that is really the best you can hope for. Those guys can put points on you in a hurry. That is definitely an area where they play really well. They always have in the (Chiefs Head Coach) Andy Reid offense just over the years. I coached against him in Philly and KC, and you have to be on top of it. They give you a lot of stuff.”

On how to prepare Browns players for Mahomes’ no-look passes:

“Just in general, it is always to plaster. Plaster the receiver that you are covering. Whether you are in man or if you are in zone, plaster the receiver in your area. When you play mobile quarterbacks, especially Mahomes, you have to be on top of that. You have to put it in practice. You have to talk about it. You have to show it on practice tape because he has had some big plays just off of moving around and guys coming open.”

On TE Travis Kelce and if Kelce is ‘giving him some nightmares’ as the team gameplans this week:

“Nightmares for sure. Going back, he has had some big games in the past when I was in Denver. He is really a receiver playing tight end. Very athletic. Has very good moves off of the line of scrimmage. Has the length to create separation and the speed to create separation, and the hands to come down with the catches. He is definitely one of the top tight ends in the league. We are going to have to do different things just to make it tough on him. He is going to get his catches. We just have to hold him to not getting the big ones.”

On Mahomes’ ability to rally the Chiefs when behind in games:

“He has a knack. It speaks to his ability to run the offense and create plays, whether it is just him throwing the ball at times or scrambling around and making throws. You have to have confidence. A lot of times when those things happen when you look on the other side of the ball, there is a breakdown defensively and there is a reason why those plays are created. Some of them is just him making a great play, but you really just have to be on top of all of your rules in terms of your coverage, in terms of plastering receivers and in terms of the rush and having a good rush plan. It all works together. Normally, like I said, when he is having those moments, on the other side of the ball, something is wrong.”

# # #