Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods (10.13.22)


On trying to identify and correct problems with the Browns rush defense:

“Disappointing obviously the last two weeks with the rush yards. When I watch it with the defense, we always talk about what we did well and areas we need to improve. Definitely pointing out the mistakes. A little bit of it is execution, whether we are staying in the gap or run fits. Missed tackles really showed up last week. Then from my standpoint as coordinator, we have to have enough on the menu to stop what we are going to see, but at the same time, simple enough where we can play fast and execute.”


On if the team has considered changing its defensive scheme and if the problems in run defense have been due to scheme:

“No because we have the ability to do multiple things out of four-man front. We can also put extra D linemen on the field if we choose to. We have to consider all of that stuff, but at the same time, we can’t do so much that they can’t execute and play fast.”


On the Browns adding DT Tyeler Davison to the practice squad, and if Davison could be called up at times to serve as a NT:

“I like the guys we have, but that is always something you think about just so we get bigger inside. I feel like the guys that are playing, it comes down to technique, and it comes down to us doing something differently where they can’t just double you and take you off the ball. I feel like we have answers.”


On if he speaks with the personnel department about acquiring players to provide support at certain positions on defense:

“We are on the same page. They do a great job here just in terms of collaboration with our personnel. They know our concerns. Those are things that they address. I feel good about the guys that we have. It is just we have to play better.”


On the frustration of having talent on defense but not getting the desired production recently:

“It is frustrating. I would say disappointing at times but not discouraged. I do believe we have the talent to be a top-five defense. I have said that from the start. It is my job to get us there. We are addressing issues. We are trying to fix it. Part of it fundamentals. Part of it is scheme. Part of it is just guys doing their job. It is a little bit of everything. We all have to get on the same page, give them a good plan and then we jave to go out on Sunday most importantly and execute. Believe in it and execute.”


On incorporating specific players’ skillsets into the defensive scheme:

“You always want to find ways to activate your playmakers, guys who you feel can win the one on one, guys who can blitz and guys who you feel like can win in coverage. It is always part of the scheme. Again, we talked about it. We added some things to the scheme this offseason, but right now, it is, ‘Let’s get things settled down. Let’s play clean fundamental football.’ We will still have things to get guys home and create matchups that we want, but right now, just not doing it a lot.”


On if there is a challenge for new Browns players to learn parts of the defensive scheme because it does not match their skillset:

“No, not really. Kind of football is football. It is nothing crazy. It is just really moving the pieces around. They understand that. I think the guys know it. I feel like they feel comfortable with the defense. It is just coming down to guys feeling comfortable and executing.”


On how much pressure he feels personally to fix defensive issues now:

“I am just telling the truth, I don’t worry about it. Like I know it is a problem, and to me in the NFL, it is fair. The NFL is fair. You have an opportunity. I feel like the organization provides us with good players on defense at all three levels. Right now, we are not performing well. There are stretches where we are doing good things, but we are not consistently playing well for 60 minutes. It just comes with the territory. For me having red eyes is about just studying. I am always like that. I have been like that for 31 years coaching. In terms of worrying about that, you can’t because if you worry about it, then it affects your decision making and it affects your thought process. I just put my head down and say, ‘How can we get better?’”


On if it is somewhat unexpected that the Browns defense is having some of its issues given the continuity and returning players from 2021:

“It is. It is weird. There are new guys coming here. We are in a little bit a youth movement that we are putting in there and playing. To me, it is just I have to find a way where they can understand things and play clean football. Again, they do because a lot of stuff, I always look at me first and ‘Is this something that is too hard or is this too much?’ because you want to do things like we were saying earlier where you are activating certain guys or putting certain guys in certain positions, but if I am doing too much where we can’t practice it enough or they can’t execute at a high level, then that is where I have to pull back a little bit, even with having a lot of guys coming back from last season.


On if the Browns defense is considering pulling back a bit in terms of details on defense:

“Oh, we have been. We have been.”


On how the trade for LB Deion Jones happened after Sunday’s game:

“It was something that we talked about. I was aware of it. We knew we were thin at the linebacker position just in terms of depth. When he came available, a guy who played at a high level and Pro Bowl-caliber player who fits in our system – he was in the same system with (former Falcons and Cowboys defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn down there in Atlanta – I just felt like it was a good trade to make. I was happy to see it.”


On if being in Atlanta two weeks ago impacted trade talks regarding Jones:

“That is above me. I am sure with us being down there, there may have been some initial discussions, but that is a better question for (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry).


On if Jones will be ready for the Patriots game:

“It is really day to day. We know he understands the scheme, but it is the terminology and it is getting the reps. We are going to take it day by day and make a decision at the end of the week.”


On challenges stopping Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson:

“It is the same. For us, it is what defense can we get in where we can play fast, execute and maybe give them a couple of different looks. Again, we want to keep it simple, but every week, it is a good back. Last week, it was (LA Chargers RB Austin) Ekeler. It is just the same challenge a lot of the times.”


On the challenge the Patriots under Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will present this week, given the fact Belichick is known for exploiting a team’s weaknesses:

“That is always tough. He is a legendary coach. He is great at what he does. We all know that they play at a high level and don’t make many mistakes. You know what you are facing because you are going through the breakdown and you are looking at it. We will be ready from that standpoint. To me, it is always about fixing what we do because if we are right with our fits, we are right with our gaps, if we come up with a great game plan to put them in position and then now that is when you feel confident when you rep it, the guys are executing it and you are seeing it on tape, to me that is probably the most important thing.”


On missed tackles and the importance of gang tackling and rallying to the football:

“It is the first guy and the rest of the guys coming to pursue. I put together a tackling reel. I just watched it with the guys in the afternoon meeting. You have to have a tackling plan and understand what type of tackle that you need to make. Do I have the guy in a hole and he has nowhere to go or is it in the open field? I have to put myself in position and get the guy on the ground. A little bit of that is what I saw. I went back and I watched every missed tackle we had. I put the tape together, showed the examples and I wanted to talk to the whole group so they understood it, the back seven. We watched that. I believed it helped him. We will see.”


On if he has seen on tape Browns players not running to and pursuing the ball carrier:

“No, I don’t. We are always talking about guys running to the ball. You see it on tape. We are running there, but we are missing the tackle so we have to track properly.”


On the length of the missed-tackle reel:

“It was about 15 plays altogether.”


On if the missed-tackle reel consisted simply of plays from this season:

“Yes. From this season.”


On if one issue with the Browns run defense is getting into another person’s gap:

“It is something that always happens. You are locking out a guy, you are locking out a guy and here comes the ball. I am in the gap, and then I cross base too early. It could be a linebacker fitting or a safety fitting. That is where the trust comes in. You have to maintain your gap and know that the guys are going to be in their proper gap. Just worry about doing your job.”


On what has led to the Browns’ missed tackles this season:

“Honestly, I think the same thing. I am just sitting here like, ‘What is going on?” You look at it, and it comes back down to technique and fundamentals, and it comes down to what you are doing in practice every day. We work on tackling a lot, but I think it is getting in the position of understanding your tackling plan. We are just trying to incorporate more of the live moments. Maybe it is doing stuff more in space where guys have to close instead of the 5-yards away angle-type tackle. We are trying to do different things. You have to attract the near hip. We are getting a lot of cut-back runs so you have to attract the near hip and you have to just lower your pads and tackle him.”


On if the Browns defense’s slow start is similar to last year when people were critical of him and the unit but they group ultimately finished the year strong:

“Each year is a different challenge. I promise everybody, we are trying to do everything that we can to win. Right now, it is not going well in terms of the consistency – it is in stretches we are doing things – but I just don’t worry about it. You can’t. I have been around in my coaching career just different people who maybe they listen to it more, and I have seen what it has done to them. I just believe in what I am doing. I believe in the coaches I have around me, just because of stuff that we have done. I believe in the players. I feel like if we all just work together to correct the issues that we will get it headed in the right direction.”


On how he has seen other coaches react when listening to external opinions that the coach should be replaced:

“Nervous. Nervous. Trying to be perfect. This game, it is not going to be perfect. They are going to catch big passes, and they are going to catch big runs. For us, if we execute our technique, then those type of plays have to be perfect plays.”


On how to use good stretches from the Browns defense this season to help create more consistency:

“It is momentum. Just like everything you teach, the schemes you put in the gameplans, when you go out and you have success and then the buy in and guys buy in more. I know that the guys buy in. I think we all see the issues from a players’ standpoint and from a coaches’ standpoint. Whenever we have an opportunity in terms of the opponent we are playing and whether it is scheme or the same opponent, we try to show those positive plays from previous years.”


On how to maintain gap integrity with the potential for cut-back runs:

“Somebody is responsible for that. Within the core in terms of the gaps when you are out in the space, it is tracking angles.”


On if there is a significant difference if Patriots QB Mac Jones or Patriots QB Bailey Zappe starts:

“I think with Jones, he has the experience because he has played more. You can see he is more comfortable in the system just in terms of doing more and just checking things at the line of scrimmage. I do think that Zappe is doing a really good job, especially the last game. It seems like he has control of the offense. He is making the right decisions. They are running the ball well. They are going to do what they do. They are both capable.


On CB Martin Emerson Jr., who may need to step into a larger role if CB Denzel Ward is unavailable this Sunday:

“He is a competitor. At the end of the game last week, he wanted the matchup, and that was impressive. He went out there on fourth-and-2 and made the stop, but he has that type of mindset. Very hard on himself in practice. He is a competitor.”


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