DC Joe Woods (10.8.20)

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On what was going through his heart and mind when the Cowboys were making a fourth quarter comeback:

“It was racing. I promise you, the heartbeat was fast. Really, I played in a very similar game against those guys when I was in Denver. We went into the fourth quarter 35-10, and we made a couple of plays and got off the field so I had that same feeling going in and it was 41-14. Really, the whole plan was really just try to be good with our coverage, rush the quarterback and maybe force him into some bad decisions and get a turnover. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We found a way to hang on at the end, but that is definitely not the way we want to play defense and finish games.”

On CB Denzel Ward performing at a high level and Ward’s interception to close the game while dealing with a groin injury:

“Very, very proud of the way he has fought through injuries. Proud of the way he played. When you watch the end of the game, you get in a situation when you are up that much that you kind of play cautious. When I went back – obviously, I watched it several times – he was one of the guys that stuck out that was really just playing his technique and really trying to finish, and it paid off for us in the end. Really proud of where he is, and hopefully, he continues to play this way for us.”

On what it means for DE Myles Garrett to have such a strong start to the season and make big plays in key moments of games:

“Everything. You have one of those flamethrowers out there, that is what allows you to do certain things in coverage. I always try to put Myles in good situations because I feel like if we can get him one on one, I feel like he has a chance to win every time. Just what he has done over the last few games, it speaks to the level that he is playing at right now.”

On if he finds himself at times on the sideline saying to himself ‘come on No. 95, make a play’:

“No question. That was the plan the whole way. I was a little conservative. The first thing I do when I go back is I always look at the how could I have been better as a play caller because I think that you have to look at yourself first, and then now you are evaluating the scheme and the players. A big part of me calling things a certain way is based on how we are rushing up front. When you have Myles, you feel like if you can make him hold it for a second, then he will get it.”

On if it is a difficult time being a NFL defensive coordinator, given points per game is up this season around the league:

“I embrace it. It is a challenge. I think we are all going through the same things. I think maybe some offenses where as a system has been intact, especially when a quarterback has been there, they are probably playing more to their level because of that. I think for us, and not making excuses, we are really week in and week out trying to find out who we have as our playmakers and what are some of the better things to call in situations. We will continue to do that throughout the season. I embrace it and I just know that we have to do a better job defensively, but I will take the win.”

On if he sees DT Sheldon Richardson still getting better at his stage in his career:

“You know what? I do. I mess with Sheldon all the time because I remember when he came out in the draft, and I came from the Tampa tree and it was always about (Pro Football Hall of Fame DT) Warren Sapp as 3-technique, and I remember when he came out in the draft, it was like, ‘Man, this is the next guy.’ I make sure I remind him of that and say this is the guy that we need to see all the time. If there is a big play he makes or you see him running to the ball, I always try that out to him because if we can get him playing at that level, that just helps us when it comes to defending the run and the pass.”

On what does Richardson brings to the team on and off the field, referencing a video of Richardson talking with Garrett:

“Yeah, he is a character. He is really a good guy to have on the team because he is a veteran so there is a lot of wise things and a lot of advice that he gives to other players. I think when it is time when it is crunch time, he is the guy that you can look at and say, ‘Hey man, let’s get this thing going.’ He has definitely been a positive attribute to our team, especially defensively.”

On if has noticed a change in the way Colts QB Philip Rivers plays and what Rivers brings to the Colts offense:

“He brings confidence to that offense. I know the head coach that was with him prior, and when you have a veteran quarterback that commands the offense, he is putting them in the right plays, whether it is run or pass, at the line of scrimmage. You can’t fool the guy. He is really a good rhythm thrower. He can still make the throws. I think this is the 14th time I have coached against him since I have been in the NFL so I see the same thing from Game 1 when I first coached against him to Game 14. We definitely are going to have our hands full with this guy.”

On the challenge Colts DT DeForest Buckner presents to the Browns offense:

“I do not know if (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski has had conversations with (defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin about it, but DeForest is a great player, based on all the things he has done so far in his career. That is the challenge you have, whether you are on offense or defense, is every week you are going to face a great player. I am sure they are going to try to find ways to neutralize him with what they are doing offensively, but I have enough problems to deal with (laughter). Kevin understands what he is dealing with. He does.”

On his conversations with S Andrew Sendejo and occasions where Sendejo appears to have given up big plays, including one last week:

“Yeah, the long play, Sendejo, that was that was not his play. His play was on No. 2 on the out cut. He actually covered up. We busted that coverage extremely bad. The pressure did not work for us. He was not responsible for that first long touchdown whatsoever. He is an aggressive player. I was actually there when we signed him. I worked him out as a free agent. The thing he is going to give you is he is going to play 100 miles an hour all of the time. My conversation with him is always just play within yourself. He has really been an asset for us because he gets everybody lined up in the back end, he communicates, his work ethic around the building and his film study. His biggest thing is just continuing to work on being consistent and not trying to do too much.”


On if LB Mack Wilson is still easing into or if he will be ready to go fully this week:

“He is feeling a lot better. He is truly not 100 percent, I would say. He is still coming back from the injury, but he is getting strong and stronger every week. Again, we put him in a position where he is getting the majority of his reps in base, and we are just going to continue to evaluate how many nickel reps he gets. He is getting better, and he will continue to be more involved in our defense on base and sub.”


On if he is most comfortable with S Ronnie Harrison Jr. at SS or if Harrison could also play FS:

“I think his natural fit is probably as a strong safety, but there are positions based on what we are calling where he will have to play in the post at times. It is just something we are evaluating week to week. He is getting better. He is understanding defenses more and more each week, and we are going to really try to get him some more reps in this game and continue to do that throughout the season.”

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