Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods (12.29.22)


On if the Browns ranking in run defense are a result of scheme or personnel:

“I just think teams start running the ball on us, and we get a high, high number of runs per game. We haven’t handled it well because we give up explosive runs. That was the main focus for us throughout the season was how can we eliminate the explosives. We just didn’t do a good job. When you give up big runs, you give up big yards, and I think that is what happened to us throughout the season.”


On if the Browns secondary has improved during the second half of the season but the run defense has struggled:

“I think we have been consistent in the secondary throughout the year. It is just the run defense hasn’t been good. Not going to run away and hide from it. It just hasn’t been good.”


On the Browns defense starting slower than desired during the first half of the season and playing well in the second half during each of the past two seasons:

“It is a good question. This year was the first year we really had a full offseason. I felt like we put a lot of time in. We did a lot more in terms of walkthroughs. I felt really good about the defense and some of the new things we put in. I don’t know. For whatever reason, it just feels like we start slow. Some of it may be the preseason you don’t do a bunch, you face different offensive schemes and you are trying to feel what you do good, but overall, I really can’t put my finger on it.”


On if there are opportunities for CB Greg Newsome II’ to have a role that includes playing outside CB more and slot CB less:

“I think the more you can do, the better. The more versatility allows us to do certain things in terms of creating matchups and moving people around. When you are in there, it is a little bit different. You have to play like a linebacker. We will try to find ways to do that, but again, I think the versatility for him is the most important thing.”


On if Newsome is playing more slot CB due to the number of players on the roster who are capable of playing either inside or outside:

“Yeah, that is part of it.”


On if part of determining which DBs are playing the slot or in nickel and dime packages is related to wanting to get top talent on the field, including Newsome and CBs Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson Jr.:

“Yeah, that is what it is. We have some options. I know (CB) A.J. Green plays inside. We look at it every week and just try to put our best matchups out there.”


On how the size and performance of Browns DTs has factored into struggles in run defense:

“I don’t think it is as big of a deal as maybe people think. Game to game, most of the plays that we get beat on is just because we don’t execute the defense more than an offense knocking us off of the ball. Whether it is something that hits on the edge or we didn’t fit it correctly, it is more of those things. Specifically with the tackles, I don’t view it that way.”


On if the size of and injuries to Browns LBs are factors contributing to struggles in run defense:

“I think it is the injuries. Losing our top four guys, that was tough to deal with. With our scheme, we put a premium on speed. You just have to be able to really when you are taking on blockers just use your length and be able to beat a block, but you can’t avoid them. That happened to us a few times this season.”


On if DE Myles Garrett sitting the first series on Saturday is a ‘big deal’ to the defensive performance and gameplan:

“No. I don’t want him out there all the time. We try to rest him. You always want your best guys on the field in those pass rush situations at the end of the game.”


On if Garrett not playing the first series due to a coaching decision potentially lingers throughout a game:

“That is an internal decision. I know (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) probably talked to you guys about that, and he would be the guy to ask.”


On if the Browns have gotten the best from Garrett during the practice week while battling injuries:

“Myles has been fighting through it. There are times when he is not out there practicing. He is dealing with injuries, especially his upper body injuries. When he gets out there, he gives us his best.”


On if Browns defensive players have taken accountability for missed opportunities and mistakes this season:

“For sure. That is the thing, in the games that we played well and we won, like a game really comes down to two or three plays. You make two or three plays, like let’s say you get off on a third down where in a game you don’t get off on a third down, you take eight more plays. If it happens twice a game, you take 16 more plays. When you look at the tape, that is what really happens. There are times this year when we have made those plays – the Pittsburgh game, the Cincinnati game, Tampa game and Baltimore – and there are games where we didn’t.”


On evaluating Garrett’s growth as a leader this season:

“I thought he definitely stepped up from the offseason throughout the season and tried to be because you have to be a leader in your own way. Some guys are leaders vocally. Some guys are leader by example. I think he is a little bit of both. I felt like he stepped up and did a good job. We just obviously don’t want to have any issues. Throughout the year, we have had multiple issues with certain guys so those are definitely things we want to clean up. In terms of him as a leader, I felt like he really tried to step up and do a good job for us this year.”


On if DT Perrion Winfrey matured and grew up throughout the season:

“Yeah, he definitely grew up. You don’t know what happened or what those guys have been through going back to their high school years and to their college years and just how they grew up. I feel like he had to learn how to be a professional and do things the right way in terms of studying and in terms of how he practiced. I definitely saw him get better throughout the season.”


On how the Browns graded LB Reggie Ragland’s performance against the Saints, given some external metrics gave Ragland a really high grade:

“He played well. Early on with some of the things they were doing, we had to make some adjustments on the sideline in terms of our alignments. Once he got comfortable, really for his first time being out there, I thought he played well.”


On if last week’s game was set up to fit Ragland’s style of play and if the Browns may play Ragland as many snaps again this week:

“I think you just play him and see what he can do. Based off of what he did last week, we definitely have a rotation of our linebackers based on what type of package we are in, but we are going to put him out there and see what he can do.”


On if the Browns defensive scheme started too complex during the past two seasons and if that was a factor that led to the unit starting off the season slower than desired:

“I don’t think so. Our scheme isn’t really that big. We really do the same things. We just package them differently. That is what I really tried to eliminate after we started making some mistakes, instead of having double-calls or calls based off the formation or based off the back, but we were still running the same calls. I don’t feel like that was a problem.”


On if he was concerned about the Browns run defense prior to the season or if the struggles have been a surprise:

“I was not concerned about the run defense. I know there was questions. The big thing since I have been here we have had a lot of turnover, and I knew this year we drafted some young guys so it is going to take time for those guys to develop. Going into the season, I wasn’t concerned with the run defense.”


On not having concerns about the run defense prior to the season and then losing multiple LBs for the year, including early in the campaign:

“Just felt like we had our whole linebacking crew back. Obviously, we evaluated some of the guys we bought in and just felt like they fit our scheme. Again, most of our run issues are just execution-based or tackling so it is just fundamentals of really just trying to execute the defense.”


On if the struggles in run defense are result of personnel:

“No, I am not saying that. I am not saying it is a personnel issue.”


On if execution in run defense is on the coaches:

“Absolutely. I put it all on coaching. Coaching first. We have to get the guys to go out and execute whatever I am calling.”


On benefits if DE Jadeveon Clowney is able to play the final two games of the season and if Clowney wants to play in those contests if fully cleared in the concussion protocol:

“Yes, I definitely think he wants to play. He was in good spirits yesterday. I look forward to him playing these last two games for sure. We need him.”


On Clowney making a difference on defense and having ‘plenty left in the tank’ despite battling injuries earlier in the season:

“Yes. I would agree with that.”


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