Defensive coordinator Joe Woods (10.28.21)

On S Richard LeCounte III missing practice yesterday:

“It is just something in terms of team rules.”


On if there were opportunities for the Browns defense to get off of the field during the two long drives against the Broncos in Week 7:

“Yes, there were some different things in that game. I just wanted to kind of calm it down and pull back a little bit. It just came down to we were just a little bit off on the third downs. The first half, we were really good. The second half, we just did not get off as much. We cleaned that up, and we talked to the guys about it.”


On how to defend the Steelers short, quick passing game while also taking opportunities for deep shots:

“What you said is what they did (laughter). Everybody knows it. (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) does a good job. You can’t fool him. He understands coverages, and he gets rid of the ball extremely quick when he knows what he is looking at. Every now and then, they will block it up and take shots down the field so you have to defend both. You have to mix your coverages and pressures and just try to give them different looks to get him just to hold the ball for a split second.”


On the message to Browns DBs due to Roethlisberger’s ability avoid sacks and extend plays:

“You have to play tight coverage, and it has to be zone and man. You want to play some split-safety defense, as well single-high. I think it is the whole combination of mixing everything, but the guys, regardless of what you are in, just being ready to get tight to their coverage.”


On if S John Johnson III baited Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater on his interception last week:

“It was good. He did a good job keying the route combination. That is what a lot of teams run when you play quarters or they catch you in quarters, and he felt it. He just pushed off of it and did exactly what (pass game coordinator/defensive backs) Coach (Jeff) Howard was teaching him to do and just came away with a pick. I was very happy to see that happen.”


On if Johnson is turning the corner of playing primarily FS or if Johnson is still getting used to the role:

“He is fine. He is really the quarterback of the defense for us in terms of the back end. We are really trying to get him playing more of a free safety position as we are settling other guys in. We got (S) Grant (Delpit) back at the beginning of the season so we can move the pieces around, and we will as we continue to move through the season, but right now, we are just trying to really keep him in the post to control everything.”


On if there is any added motivation with the potential for Sunday to be Roethlisberger’s last game in Cleveland:

“No, we are just worried about this game. Who knows with Ben? He could play a few more years. You can see he still can make all the throws, he still understands the defense and he is making good decisions for those guys. Who knows? All we have to worry about is this game. We will see.”


On how to flip the field and get more turnovers:

“That is the one area just going back during this mini-bye, we went back and looked at our first seven games. We looked at all of the different areas, and one of the areas that we are struggling in is takeaways. Now, the one thing that we are doing differently than we did last season is we are playing more man coverage so a lot of times your back is to the ball instead of dropping in zones and seeing the ball. That will make your numbers go down a little bit, but we have had opportunities and we have not cashed in.”


On the Steelers’ success running the ball with new Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada:

“You can definitely see his influence taking over as a coordinator. The last two games, I believe (Steelers RB Najee) Harris is third overall in the NFL just in terms of rushing yards. He gets more than half of those yards after contact. I think they are sixth in the NFL in terms of explosive runs. I think with their system because of the RPOs and throws that Ben makes, you do not feel it as much, but when you look at the tape, you certainly feel it. We will definitely have to gang tackle this running back and get as many guys around him as we can.”


On if DE Myles Garrett is playing at the same level as the beginning of last season:

“It feels that way. He is definitely affecting the game. There are different things we are trying to do with him, moving him around to create matchups, but he is definitely making an impact. I think he is making it easier for other guys, as well.”


On if Garrett gets any more ‘juice’ for a game with a successful pass rusher like Steelers LB T.J. Watt on the other sideline:

“No, he is on the other side of the ball so I think Myles is worried about how he can affect the game for us.”


On if the Browns defense’s pass-rush win rate is a factor of Garrett and DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley helping one another:

“I think it is a little bit of that. I think they are learning and working well together, and I think we are able to move them around just because of their ability. I think the key word you said is ‘three.’ When you have three, I think it makes it easier. Obviously, want to continue to affect the quarterback as much as we can.”


On if the Browns ‘threw out’ anything on defense during the mini-bye:

“I would say maybe just re-ordered maybe the calls. You guys have asked me multiple times with all of the guys we have, ‘How much do you keep putting in, putting in?’ That is what happens. How much can you put in and how much is too much? I kind of flirted with that line a little bit, and then when you make one or two mistakes, was it worth it to do it? We really looked at that, and we are going to try and keep a tight menu but maybe pick more from certain packages game to game instead of trying to do a little bit of all of it.”


On if flirting with the line of adding more and doing too much contributed to some busted coverages earlier in the season:

“You come out in practice and you rep some of those pressures to certain looks. You get in the game, and it is something you did not rep it against. If somebody is off just a drop or their gap, now you get hit with a play. Just very conscious of that. I just want to make sure I do a good job of preparing them, but at the same time, do not give them too much.”


On how Garret fights through not getting potential penalty calls:

“It is the NFL. It happens every week. He just said something to me earlier, and I was like ‘Hey (shrugs).’ They are going to hold you. That is the NFL. The same thing with DBs – receivers push, and we grab. How many flags are you going to throw? He will be fine.”


On if the Steelers are turning the corner to incorporate Steelers rookie TE Pat Freiermuth more in the offense:

“They have a good tight end group. They have guys who can run. They have size. You can definitely see he has become more of a factor in terms of getting the ball. You can see it on first and second down, and you can also see it on third down.”


On if he Clowney will be able to play on Sunday:

“I hope so. I do. I think he is.”


On the speed  S Grant Delpit showed on a blitz last week and if that shows the versatility Delpit provides:

“Definitely, but that is what happens. ‘We can do this. We can do that.’ You just have to be careful because the looks you see week to week, they can be different. They are game planning you. Moving forward, I just want to be aware of that and not give him too much.”


On if it will be hard for CB Denzel Ward to make it to Sunday’s game due to the hamstring injury:

“I do not know. Just take it day to day and see where he is. He is out there going through the walkthrough part of practice with us so we will see what happens the next couple of days.”


On injuries in the Browns secondary:

“For me, it is the next guy up. If you worry about injuries or guys going down, you will be sick, so sick. I feel confident in the guys we have in the back end. (CB) Greg (Newsome) and (CB) Greedy (Williams) will start and (CB) Troy (Hill), and we have other guys we are preparing to play if Denzel does not make it.”


On how valuable Williams has been to the Browns defense:

“He stepped up and played well. He has made plays on the ball and created fumbles. I am very pleased with where he is. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now. Just an opportunity for him to step up for the defense.”


On Harris:

“Big, strong, physical, hard to tackle and can catch the ball out of the field. He is doing a lot of good things for them. You can see they are really trying to establish the run game and that physical nature of football.”


On if the Steelers are taking the focus to more of the run game and away from Roethlisberger this year:

“No, I think in their system it is built in in terms of what they choose to do and how they operate. I think they definitely want to run that guy for sure.”


On RB D’Ernest Johnson’s performance last week and the message it sends to Browns players to always be ready:

“Yeah, that is a message that (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) talked to the whole team about after the game because you always have to prepare and you always have to be ready to go when your number is called. He was behind really two great backs, and his number was called. He had a great night. I am happy for him. The whole team is happy for him. It definitely sends a message.”


On LB Mack Wilson Sr.’s performance in recent weeks:

“Mack is doing good things. I think early on just with the rotation, he was not getting a lot of reps, but the last few games, he has gotten in and he has played really well for us. He has to continue to do that, especially with JOK (LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) out.”


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