Defensive coordinator Joe Woods (12.15.21)

On having more Browns defensive players added to the reserve/COVID-19 list and the hope that more Browns players are not added to it later this week:

“That is the hope. Obviously, it is not the perfect situation or the ideal situation, but I do believe we have quality depth. I know we dealt with this last year. All of the guys, we have meetings and really just got off of meetings, they are all [mentally] positive. We are getting everybody to move forward and so are we. The losses, like I said, they are not ideal – you do not want it to happen – but you have to be able to move on.”


On an update on CB Greg Newsome II’s status and plans for the Browns defense this week with the anticipation of not having some of the Browns starters:

“It is still day to day [for Newsome]. He is going through the protocol and just trying to see where he is and symptom free. Do not know if he is going to make it but, it is really day to day. All of the guys, you mentioned the other positions, we have had other guys who have played. I think that is one of the benefits for us defensively is a lot of our guys have played throughout the season. It is really kind of the next man up philosophy. Really do not even really talk about it. It is just like here is a game plan, and then whoever is playing, that is whoever is playing. We have enough in there just to take care of certain things if we need to.”


On if S Ronnie Harrison Jr. may be available against the Raiders:

“Fingers crossed. Ronnie actually practiced at the end of last week. He was moving around. He just did not feel like he was healthy enough to play at the level that he felt like he needed to play. Based on that, I would believe that he would make it to this game, but we will get a chance to see here in the next couple of days.”


On who will play nickel CB if Newsome and CB Troy Hill are unavailable:

“I really do not want to give it away, but we have multiple options based on what we want to do defensively. Ronnie has played some of the nickel position in some of our packages. (S) M.J. Stewart (Jr.) has played some of the nickel position. With some of these guys, they understand the techniques enough so if we just want to move some guys in there and just run specific calls, we can do that, as well. That is really kind of how I am looking at it. It might be multiple guys just really maybe based on what we are running defensively.”


On the challenge facing Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow and if the Browns could potentially match up CB Denzel Ward and Renfrow in the slot:

“It is definitely one of the thoughts. Regardless because of how he runs routes and how they use him, you have to put something together defensively to try to handle multiple things. Even if we had all of the guys up, we would still do some things to try to take him away.”


On Raiders QB Derek Carr and Raiders RB Josh Jacobs:

“Derek – I was there when we drafted him – he is a very talented quarterback. He has the arm strength. He has the mobility. You can see he can read defenses. They give him the ability to make checks at the line of scrimmage, and you can see him do that. Jacob is very similar to me to the backs that we have. Just has really good balance and body control and runs behinds his pads. He shows the power. Very quick. He is a jump-cutter. He can go from A Gap to B Gap like right now. In their passing game, they like to throw the ball and challenge you vertically. They have the playmakers. We definitely have to play well in all phases of our game.”


On if S Jovante Moffatt or S Richard LeCounte III is the next man up at S:

“Really to be honest with you, it might be both of them. That is really the decision that we are going to have to have over the next day or two. It is something we talked about defensively just a little while ago. That will be a decision – I have to talk to (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) and AB (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) – of who is up. Right now, we still feel comfortable, just as long as Ronnie gets healthy, and then having Ronnie and (S) Grant (Delpit), and we have some other guys like M.J. Stewart who have some versatility to play there, as well.”


On the performance of the Browns Ss during recent weeks:

“They have played really well. We always talk about those guys being erasers. They have to erase the deep passes. They have to erase any runs that break. We missed a few times throughout the season, but as you said, the last three or four weeks, I think you have seen the guys’ ability to make plays in space and in the run game. I think we have seen guys’ ability to match up in coverage and also the range. We have had quite a number of interceptions with those guys. That is really why we brought them here. I think it is starting to show.”


On the concern of potentially not being able to host a full practice this week while preparing for Saturday’s game:

“Honestly, it is not a perfect situation. It is not something that anybody would want, but that is what we did last year so it is like you almost feel used to it. We had guys, especially end of the season in the Pittsburgh game, the only reps they got was the walkthrough in the parking lot the morning of the game and started for us. It is kind of like been there, we have done that and we have experienced it. It is concerning, but I think we will be able to handle it.”


On if it is helpful to have several practice squad players who have been with the Browns for most of the season and who might be expected to play significant snaps on Saturday:

“Yes, absolutely, just because they are familiar with the scheme. All of those guys in practice, at times like when the numbers get low, some of those guys on the practice squad take reps on defense just to keep guys fresh. All of those guys have experience and understand the system so I do not think there will be a drop off from a learning standpoint.”


On memories of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer serving as the acting head coach for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Steelers:

“I was with Coach (Priefer) in Minnesota, as well. I am very close with him. We are plane buddies. We sit next to each other on the bus. With that opportunity that he had, he did a great job because he handles all the special teams. He is the one coordinator who really deals with the offensive and defensive players. For him, I think it was just a natural fit. If he has to do it, let’s just say he will do it again, and he will not have any issue with it.”


On S Grant Delpit’s strong performance in recent weeks:

“It is reps. Grant did not play last year. Usually when you come in as a rookie, you go through and you learn. You learn from the good things you do, and you learn from the bad things you do. You get a chance to sit down and look at it, and when you come back in the offseason, really develop a plan on how to get better. For Grant, that is what he is going through now. With each game and with each thing he does well, he understands each thing he has to correct and that we help him correct. He understands it. I think you are starting to see him be more consistent, settle down and just be himself.”


On DE Takk McKinley’s performance this season:

“He is so explosive. He has really helped us just because it gives us versatility with what we are doing up front. It allows us to run some different packages. At times you look at him and you look at his number, you would think he might be a safety. I think he has gotten comfortable with the system. I think there are plays out there he wishes he could probably have back, but I think he does impact how people try to protect us, especially on third down.”


On how much the Browns value QB pressures, in addition to sacks, and how much the Browns track QB pressures:

“We definitely do. We track it every day in practice. It is almost unrealistic, but we make them feel good (laughter). We track pressure because it is important. Sack numbers is what everybody wants, but it is really your ability to affect the quarterback and to make him move in the pocket or feel uncomfortable. As you mentioned Takk, he is dynamic in the run game because of his speed and his ability to close. He made a really good plan on (Ravens QB) Lamar (Jackson). When you put him in there and match him up on a tackle, match him up on inside on a guard or have the ability to move other people around because of what he can do, that really helps you defensively.”


On the mood of the Browns after the number of players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I really think the guys are handling it fine because there are enough guys on the team who went through it last year so it is like, ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ That is really the attitude I feel with having the meeting this morning. You do not sense any panic. You feel like guys are ready to step up like, ‘Hey, it is my opportunity. It is my chance.’ That is what I would say to you, just my feel after talking to the guys today.”


On DE Myles Garrett’s challenge to the team last Friday and backing it up with a strong performance against the Ravens:

“To me, Myles is our defensive leader. I think he tries to lead by example, and I think when that does not happen, if he feels like he needs to say something to the team or to the defense, he does it. When you can go out and make a play like that, I think that backs up your type of leadership and the things that you said to them. Going through the course of a season, it is long. It is a grind, and guys get banged up. There are long days. Guys do not always want to be here. Me too. It gets tough at times, but you just have to fight through the grind and keep your head down. When things are not going well, someone needs to step up, whether it is me as the coordinator to the entire defense but when it comes from a player, especially a player the caliber of Myles, it goes a long way to get those guys right.”


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