DC Joe Woods (5.28.20)

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On his impressions of Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

“Kevin is doing a great job. Obviously, I have known him for a long time. Kevin – I know he uses the word authentic – he is just a straight shooter. All the meetings we have had with the players, I think we are getting a lot out of it. I think they are responding to him. Right now, I think everything is going well.”


On addressing reports that the Browns are interested in free agent DE Jadeveon Clowney and if he feels Clowney would add to the defense:

“Obviously, he has been a really good player in this league, a great pass rusher when he was in Houston in Seattle. Just really affects the game. To be honest with you, that is really a question you have to ask (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manger) Andrew (Berry). I read the articles, too. I see him linked to us, Tennessee and see all these teams. Really, right now, I am really focused on coaching the guys we have.”


On the Browns’ depth on DL:

“I feel really good about it. Obviously, with (DE) Myles (Garrett), (DE) Olivier Vernon, (DT) Sheldon Richardson, the guys we have, (DT) Larry (Ogunjobi), the guys we added in the draft and (DT Andrew) Billings in free agency, I feel really good. I have been part of teams, going back to Denver and San Francisco, where everything started up front. With the guys that we have on our defense right now, I feel like we can really do some things in the run game and in the pass game with the guys that we currently have.”


On providing more specifics about the Browns’ defensive scheme this year: 

“Well, if I tell you, I am telling everybody in the league (laughter). I have been on some good defensive staffs the last couple years, going back to my time in Minnesota, my time in Denver, with (former NFL defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips and then last year in San Francisco. What I am really putting together is a combination of what I feel like have been the top defenses of the last basically 10 years. It is really a combination of the things that I have done in Minnesota, Denver and San Francisco, and they all fit together. We are almost through our whole install so I feel like it is going to be a really good defensive package that is simple where the guys can play fast, but I think it will cause some problems for the offenses.”


On teaching fundamentals like tackling during a virtual offseason program:

“The first thing, and really in the NFL the way it has trended over the last decade or so,  you really do not do things physically on the field in terms of tackling guys and bringing them to the ground so a lot of drill work and individual, a lot of group work in terms of teaching that aspect of it. I tell you what honestly, I feel like these Zoom meetings have been really good because it forces you to be very detailed with everything you are trying to put in. We have had really good conversations as a defensive staff to make sure that the exact wording is right, the picture is right and the lines are right, and the same thing with the players because everything they are getting is virtually so they are asking a lot of good questions. Our defensive staff has done a great job. We are doing things with testing and PowerPoint. We have different apps that coaches are using. I get on meetings every day with each position group, and I think they are doing a great job and I think they are learning a lot. The physical part of it, that is the stuff we can’t get. We just have to wait until we get on the field.”


On how he fully knows Browns players are learning what the team is trying to teach during the virtual offseason program:

“It is really the process we are going through. Right now, I will install the defense and then our coaches will have it installed that is more specific to their position. Part of it is a playbook install. Then the other part of it is a video install, which will include practice tape and game tape. The coaches have done a great job of giving quizzes. We also do stuff online, where we will ask them a question, whether it is about a defense or a play, and they have to answer through a chat. When everybody is on the same screen, one guy says, ‘Oh, it is that,’ and  everybody else says, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ When you put them in the chat room and they have to answer individually, now you really know if they know the question that you are asking them. We have gone through great lengths to try to do as much as we can to really find out what they are learning. To me, I really think it is going well.”


On bringing the 49ers DL together last season, given the talent and presence of several ‘alpha males’ while focusing on team production:

“It took time because you are right, you have a bunch of alpha dogs out there and they all want to be the guy. I think what they learned in San Francisco, and I think the guys here will learn, is that if you all work together, everybody is going to eat. That is what you want. You do not want anybody going hungry, right? You want everybody to eat. I think once the guys realize as we start working together, what we are going to do within our scheme and how coach (defensive line coach Chris) Kiffin is teaching them, they are all going to have an opportunity to make plays.”


On DE Myles Garrett being reinstated from his NFL suspension and his mindset now, given Garret has said before his goal is to be NFL Defensive Player of the Year:

“I think Myles has the right mindset in terms of wanting to be MVP and all of that, but we just need him to be the best payer for us that he can be, and whatever happens, happens. Right now, I think he is in a good place. I think as a young player in this league, you go through a lot of different things so I definitely think he is going to learn and grow from the situation that happened last year. We really have not talked about it after he got back and after he was reinstated. He is focused on getting better. He is focused on being a good teammate. He has been in the meetings. He is trying to step up and take more of a leadership role. I definitely think he is moving in the right direction and has the right mindset.”


On challenges Stefanski’s offense will present opposing defenses, particularly from a larger personnel standpoint:

“Really, what it comes down to is how effective are you really stopping the run. That scheme, we played against (Minnesota) in the playoffs last year when I was with San Fran. I was with (Vikings offensive coordinator/assistant head coach) Coach (Gary) Kubiak in Denver for basically two years and with (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan). They really want to try to establish the run. Once they get you going with the run, and you are running sideways and you are running downhill, now here comes the play action or misdirection. Part of it to me is you have to try to make those guys one dimensional. If you can’t make them one dimensional, then it is going to be a long day for you. Offensively, I view it as an easier offense for a quarterback to operate, just because the run puts them in position to have success in the pass game. Defensively, for us, it will all start and we better knock the run out.”


On his vision for the Browns LBs and who fits best in each positions:

“That is a good question. Right now, we are giving them some primary positions to learn, but coach (linebackers coach) Coach (Jason) Tarver and (senior defensive assistant) Coach (Ben) Bloom are really trying to cross-train most of the linebackers. This is going to be a situation where once we get on the field and we start running our defense, it is going to be how well they fit in a specific position. Are they capable of making plays, based on the scheme? It is going to be something we are going to have to feel out once we get back for training camp. I will tell you what, all of those guys in the meetings really have been doing a good job so I know mentally they can handle it. It is just physically, what are they capable of doing?”


On what stands out to him about LBs Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki and areas where they can continue to improve to reach their full potential:

“They are both athletic. They have cover skills. They have range. They play with a nasty demeanor. I remember last year, we were looking at Mack and (San Francisco LB) Dre Greenlaw. They are both to me similar types of players so I have a reference, just in terms of what I saw Dre do last year. Both of those guys just look like what we want in a linebacker: athletic, play physical and run to the ball. I think they are a natural fit. They are just both young guys who need to keep gaining experience.”


On if his defensive system will use less linebackers and more defensive backs, given how the Browns defense typically used personnel last year:

“I have come from both systems. I would like to transition into a dime system, but it is going to be something that is going to take time to get into, just because of getting their reps. Eventually, I would like to have a nickel package, where we have two linebackers on the field, but also, just to create better matchups and be a little bit more diverse in our scheme, I would like to get to a dime package, where we are putting an extra safety on the field.”


On S Grant Delpit:

“Grant is a very talented player. When you look at his tape, he has the ability to play down in the box and he has the ability to play in the post. We can play him in the dime. He can match up in the slot and man coverage. He is the ideal type of athlete that I look forward to getting in the secondary. The size and the speed, to me, he possesses it all. Obviously, everybody has talked about it and he has heard about it from everybody about the tackling issues. The one thing is I know he can tackle. We just need him to be more consistent. That is something we will work on. He is eager and he is ready to go.”


On if he believes free agent Clay Matthews III can still contribute at a high level, given his age, and if he has ‘his eye on him’:

“I think the whole mindset and philosophy of our organization is that if there is any player out there that we feel like can help us, then we will definitely look into it. Honestly, that would be a better question for Andrew Berry because once you start the process of looking at somebody, he will definitely let us know as a defensive staff, let me know and then that way we can look at him and make a decision if we want to move forward. Right now, that would really be a question for Andrew.”


On how much time he has spent during the virtual offseason preparing for AFC North QBs, specifically Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Bengals QB Joe Burrow:

“We spent some time, I will tell you that. We have done some things this offseason to help us. What Baltimore does is unique in terms of their scheme. Played against them last year so I am familiar with it and what they do, but we did do some things this offseason as a defensive staff to help us out with playing against a team like Baltimore. Obviously with Lamar (Jackson), he is just athletic, speed and he can do it all. You can have a guy accounting for him, but can that guy make the play? That is what it comes down to. We have done things to help us in terms of playing Baltimore. With Cincinnati, we know Joe Burrow and all the clout with him and what he did in college last year. Obviously, he is going to be a great player in this league. The one thing I would tell you is every week, it is something in the NFL. There are no pushovers. There are no easy games, and there is going to be a matchup issue. That is what the NFL is about, it is all about matchups. We will have our hands full every week.”


On the role envisioned for DE Adrian Clayborn and his contributions:

“He is a veteran player that has played multiple position so I think he has a lot of value because I feel like we can play him all three downs. I feel like we can play him outside and we can play him inside. Based on the conversations I have had with him, he wants to be that type of player. He just wants to help out wherever he can, and he does not care if he is playing outside or inside. I think he will be able to do multiple things for us.”


On the current health and mental status of Vernon, given reports this offseason that he was ‘less than happy’:

“All of my conversations have been good with him. I get on the phone and talk to him personally. He is ready to go. We just had an honest conversation, and he has been great. He is 100 percent attendance, In all the meetings, he has been there and he is speaking up. I know he has done really well on his tests. He scored 100 percent on a lot of them. I just think for him, he really wants to just come back this year, play healthy and just show everybody what he is capable of doing. So far, he has been great.”


On if Vernon is healthy enough to be on the field now, if the team could do so:

“Yeah, as far as I know, based on the workouts that he is doing. I feel like he is in good shape. Obviously, [his official status won’t be known] until he gets in front of our medical staff, but all indications are that he is healthy and ready to go.”