DC Joe Woods (12.31.20)

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On the Browns potentially being shorthanded at the LB position this week: 

“Hopefully, we get a few guys back. I know we will be missing (LB) Malcolm (Smith), but we get (LB) Jacob (Phillips) back. Throughout the whole year, we have been playing multiple guys so I feel like we are ready for this. I think guys will step up and we will be fine.”

On the NY Jets’ three TD passes last week and potential miscommunication on those plays: 

“It is disappointing. Obviously, I am not going to make excuses for failure to execute. I showed those plays to the defense, and it is just fundamentally we have to be better. That is on the players and that is on me as the coordinator and on the coaches in getting the technique right. Very simple mistakes that we can easily correct, but it was disappointing to give up those type of plays.”

On if the communication on those TDs was significantly impacted by LB B.J. Goodson not being available to help get everybody lined up and ready: 

“No, everything was fine. The communication, all of the backers and mainly Malcolm, they did a nice job of getting the calls. We were feeling it out a little bit just based on our substitutions, but once we got in a rhythm, there were no issues from that standpoint.”

On if DT Sheldon Richardson’s performance has picked up in recent weeks: 

“Sheldon has been consistent throughout the year. He is a veteran guy. He understands the importance of each game and how those games get more important, especially at the end of the year. He has been a great leader for us. It was cool and the guys were really jacked up when he was a captain for that game, and he played well.”

On if there has been any discussion with the Browns defense about facing Steelers QB Mason Rudolph as it relates to last year’s incident: 

“No, no conversation whatsoever. I think we are past that. I think (DE) Myles (Garrett) is past that. We are just focused on trying to play the best game.”

On if Garrett is starting to turn the corner and look more like himself in recovery from COVID-19: 

“I know that has been talked about. Throughout practice, Myles has been fine. I think in the course of the game, you just get in some situations where unfortunately you have longer drives. We do not want it to be that way, and not only Myles, there are other guys getting tired. Talking with him, he feels 100 percent. I think his conditioning is good. Hopefully, you continue to see that on the field.”

On what Rudolph does well and how to help keep the Browns defense from ‘thinking they are not getting an enormous break by not facing’ Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: 

“We definitely can’t think that way. For me, it is simple. When I was in San Francisco, we played them the third game of the year. I think it was right after Ben went down with the injury, and we were hanging on fighting for our lives to win that game. We won it really on the last drive. He is very capable of running the offense. He has been there for a long time. We will definitely prepare for him. He is the guy who is up and he is the starter, and everybody knows he is capable.”

On how he helps Browns players deal with the pressure of the magnitude with this week’s game: 

“I try not to really talk to guys about it that way because it does not matter if it is this game you need to win to get in the playoffs or not, you have to play the best football game. A lot of times over the course of my career when guys put too much pressure on themselves in situations like this, they end up making mistakes. The focus is really just go out, do your job and play to the best of your ability, and whatever happens, will happen.”

On if he does not bring up the magnitude of this game with the players: 

“No, they already know (laughter). I just try to steer them in the direction of just playing the best football they can at their position.”

On if he is a different or better coach after dealing with the adversity of this season: 

“That is a tough question to answer. When it comes to the football aspect of it, being here first time as a coordinator with the new staff, it has been fun for us just in terms of developing our own scheme. At the same time, it is tough just because of the lack of time we had in the offseason, getting everything ready to go in training camp and really trying to get better each and every week. Just the COVID itself is just a health issue that you are so concerned about, not only with the players on the field but with your family at home so it is probably more of an awareness of being safer and taking care of everybody around you. In terms of football, I just feel normal.”

On if the circumstances of this season have allowed him to connect with Browns players on a deeper level: 

“That part of it in the offseason – I know you guys asked this question before – we got to know our players through Zoom. I always tell the guys I am proud of how they worked, starting with the offseason. Everything we asked them, not only us from a defensive standpoint but from a strength and conditioning and all of the requirements and filming the videos. I feel like each coach, including myself, did get to know players better on the individual level because of those type of conversations. I feel like we are a close-knit group right now.”

On how QB Baker Mayfield looked in practice yesterday, given offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Mayfield had a ‘perfect’ practice: 

“I was not paying attention to it to be honest with you (laughter). In practice, very rarely and even during the games, we are over on the sideline and we have the ability to look at video clips so when the offense is up and Baker is up, I rarely see what he does. I am sure if [Van Pelt] said it, he had a great day.”

On the Browns S position this week: 

“We will be fine. All of the guys have played. That is the good thing. They all have experience. Hopefully, we get (S) Karl (Joseph) back, but we are prepared to play without him if we have to. (S) Ronnie (Harrison Jr.) is back and just getting him in the flow of things. He did have a good practice, and it was good to see him out there. They have worked together. (S) Sheldrick (Redwine) has grown up this year. We will be fine. We may not have a lot of depth, but I am confident in the guys who are going to play.”

On there has been an issue building chemistry and communication at the S position with all of the different combinations the team has played this year: 

“There are definitely those issues that we had to work through because you are moving guys around in multiple positions. For us, whether it is either of the safety positions, at times we move the safety down to play dime. We did have to work through those issues, but I do feel like the further we got into the season, the better off we were because we do go through those rotations in practice when we have guys up.”

On if reviewed the game film of the 49ers-Steelers game last season when Rudolph started in preparation for this week’s matchup: 

“We looked at it for the first game [against the Steelers]. It was part of our first breakdown, just because of similarity of those guys referring back to the defensive scheme there. We are fully aware of what he could do, and we really addressed that with some of the route concepts and some of the runs that we put into practice.”

On how Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has handled adversity this season, particularly last Saturday: 

“Kevin is a flat liner. You would not have known that situation occurred. He talks to us all of the time about just staying focused on the task at hand and not making excuses for anything that happens because we knew this is what type of year it was going to be. He did an outstanding job. I do not think he ever came across to us as coaches or players that he was concerned. He just addressed the issue, made the corrections or adjustments he need to make, came up with the best gameplan and went out and played. He did a great job.”

On if he marvels at how Stefanski has handled the adversity as a first-year head coach: 

“It is unbelievable. I know I get asked this question quite a bit, but when I look at Kevin, whether we are standing on the field or we are having a meeting on Zoom and listening to him, I feel like I am listening to a guy who has been doing it for three or four years. He is doing an outstanding job. He has been a great leader for us, not only for the football team and for the organization, he has been great for everybody.”

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