Defensive coordinator Joe Woods (6.17.21)


On initial impressions of the talent the team brought in on defense this offseason after spending time with them during the offseason program:

“Very excited – not only me, the whole entire defensive staff. I feel like AB (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry) and the scouts did a great job in free agency and a great job in the draft, just in terms of bringing in talented players at key positions. We are excited about the future and can’t wait to get training camp going.”


On how DE Jadeveon Clowney will complement the rest of the defense:

“He will definitely complement (DE) Myles (Garrett), just because he has been in the league for a long time. He is known as an elite pass rusher. He is very athletic and very fast. For offenses, they are going to make a choice of who they are going to chip and where they are going to slide the protection to. It will be a great complement, and we will also be able to move those guys around just to try to create some favorable matchups for ourselves.”


On how limited the Browns defensive scheme was due to personnel, injuries or other factors last season and how it can grow this year:

“Last year, there was a whole lot of things you can say, but we have the mindset of no excuses and no explanations. Week in and week out try to find a way to win. Just based on practice time and players available, there were certain things that we were not able to get to, but now moving forward, we have already started the process in the offseason of installing some new defensive packages and some new cover schemes, just so we can dictate the tempo a little bit more.”


On if he is looking forward to using more of the dime package with three Ss as S Grant Delpit returns and the addition of S John Johnson III:

“Yes, dime package is a big part of what I was involved in in (former NFL defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips system in Denver. You are always trying to put yourself in a position where you have favorable matchups. When we go dime, we are putting more cover guys on the field, and we are putting more speed on the field. It probably will not be as much as I ran in Denver, but it will definitely be a lot more [than last year], especially on third down and maybe two-minute situations.”


On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:

“Things are going well with him. A very smart player, very athletic. You can see the speed, the quickness and the change of direction. He will be able to match up well against tight ends. The thing we have to be careful of and I have to be careful of is you look at him, and you want to do a lot, but coming in as a rookie, you do not want to put him in those situations. You want to gradually bring him along, and as he gains experience and understands the defense more and more, then you will start to expand it. There are some things drawn on the whiteboard I want to do, but we probably will not get to all of them this year.”


On reactions to the team drafting CB Greg Newsome II and Owusu-Koramoah:

“The draft is not a perfect science and when you are looking at your different positions and seeing where you have depth. When we looked at the first-round to my understanding, you look at the corners and there was more of a drop off, where there was some more depth at the linebacker position, but I believe we were considering both players at No. 26, and it was just better for us to secure the corner position in that first round. As the second round got going, I was sitting there – I did not want to say anything because you do want to jinx it – looking at it and checking the list, and I see he is still there. Evidently, AB and the guys, they were trying to make a move for him, and we ended up moving up a little bit to get him. To me, it felt like we got two first-rounders, for sure. Both Greg and JOK, those guys are very smart players, and they are very competitive players. They just bring a different element to the team. They come out there and they just go hard all the time. They are trying to learn as much football as they can. The versatility, we are playing them at multiple positions to see what they are capable of doing. It has been good having both of those guys involved.”


On if Newsome is also capable of playing in the slot if needed:

“Yeah, so far, it looks that way. During the offseason is when you really want to put guys in those positions to see what they are capable of doing in terms of playing inside and outside so we expose him to it so he knows the coverages and the techniques we are asking him to play. When we come back in training camp, we will see how he progressed and for him to keep moving in that direction or just focus some more outside at corner. Right now, I believe he is capable of playing both positions.”


On how beneficial is it for S Ronnie Harrison Jr. to have been with the team last year after joining the team right before the season:

“It is very beneficial to have him here. Last year, you do not really try to change guys at that point. You try to really install the defense, teach them the defense and let them be themselves because you did not start the whole offseason process with him. Now, it is kind of like with everything we are doing with players and with the scheme, it is kind of like we pulled it all apart and we are trying to build it from the ground up again. With Ronnie, I was watching film yesterday, I said, ‘Who is that guy in the post?’ ‘They were like that is Ronnie.’ ‘Ronnie?’ Just in terms of what he has done so far working on his movement skills and bending more in his backpedal, he looks like a different guy, and he has a natural feel when he is in the box. I think he is set up to have a really good year for us.”


On if he feels that he is on the ‘hot seat’ this season after the Browns added several key players on defense this year:
“I will be honest with you, it is the NFL; I have been in the hot seat for 30 years. Every year, you get contracts, but you keep your job based on how your players, your position or your unit performs. I was very excited of what we were able to accomplish. It has not been done around here for a long time, but this is a show me game. That is the NFL, and I have to produce. I am in charge of the defense, and I am excited about it. The players we acquired, I am excited to get going and really hopefully play better defense than we did last year.”


On if there are concerns about potentially being too light on defense with added speed and that the team might be susceptible in the running game:

“I do not think so. I think that a lot of those questions pertain to JOK, but when you look around the league, the league is becoming more of you see teams spreading you out and quick throws. It is becoming more matchups and space. (LB) Malcolm Smith was really the first guy, he came out and he was about 225. You look at (Falcons LB) Deion Jones down in Atlanta, he was in the 220s. Even we had (free agent LB) Kwon Alexander in San Francisco, he was in the 220s. Just more of a premium on speed, but there is enough size where those guys can play physical, and we have to be smart in terms of how we use him, as well.”


On DE Takk McKinley’s positive attitude throughout minicamp, given the team added Clowney after signing McKinley and McKinley is now potentially out of the starting lineup:

“With the whole defensive line, it is starters in terms of who runs out of the tunnel when they call your name, but for us, we like to put as many defensive linemen out there and we want to keep guys fresh and just bring waves of body at the offense. Having him (Clowney), there are really no apologies. He has not come across that way. It is just an opportunity for those guys, to me, to be fresh and to be at their best because they are not out there for 60 or 70 plays in a row. I think they all understand that and understand that we have to win together as a unit, regardless of who is on the field.”


On it potentially taking a while for the Browns defense to gel with the new additions:

“It is my job to go in there and our job as coaches to teach these guys the scheme, the techniques that we are using and to rep it. That is what the offseason is for and that is what training camp is for. You are going to have things that you are going come across and adversity throughout the season, but as long as we can establish our defensive scheme and guys can execute, I feel like it will not be as much of a problem as people may think it will be. Again, there may be six or more starters [added to the roster], but I am excited about that just in terms of what we were able to bring in.”


On if communication can solve any potential questions marks about the defense being able to gel in time for the regular season:

“Yeah, that is part of it. Everything we do on the field, guys have to work together. That is why having guys here and in practice is critical. To have guys who are not here, they are missing that element in terms of the camaraderie building in their position rooms, getting on the field and seeing how each other works, and for us, building the different combinations with the right players. Communication is definitely a part of it and just having guys around each other. You can see the benefits of that already.”


On if the Browns DL reminds him of the 49ers DL in 2019:

“When I was in San Francisco, we went through the season so you can see the results of it because we played 19 games. We have not played a game yet, and on paper, it all looks good, but it is all about what you do between the white lines. In terms of the comparison, you can see we have ability, but it is all going to be based on how we perform if we are similar to that unit.”


On how important it is to have versatility on the DL:

“We want to be able to affect protections. I experienced that with (Broncos OLB) Von (Miller), (former NFL DE) D-Ware (Demarcus Ware), (Buccaneers OLB) Shaq Barrett and (Broncos OLB) Bradley Chubb in Denver. There will be ways if we know we are getting a getting certain protections that we are going to work on a couple of guys, we can move guys around and create the one on ones that we want to create. That is what excites me the most is really just digging back into those packages when we have our pass rush unit out there in passing situations and doing what we want to do.”


On if the Browns still have big plans for DT Andrew Billings, who opted out last season after signing with the team in free agency, and Billings’ current shape and size:

“He is a grown man. He is strong. Obviously, he has size, but he is very strong. I think he was powerlifter in high school. I have talked to him, he said he is not as strong as he could be, but he said give him a month and he will be back to squatting 900 pounds. I do not think he is in the ideal football shape that he wants to be in. Again, that is why you go through OTAs, summer working out and come back in training camp just to get yourself where you need to be. He is definitely part of our plans. Definitely a first and second down run-stuffer type of player. I am excited about him. He has a great personality and fits in great with the guys. He will definitely play a role for us this season.”


On if anything in particular stands out about Delpit and CB Greedy Williams as they return to the field after rehab:

“Just to have the talent out there. When you look at those guys, they have size, length and speed. Grant is versatile. To have those guys out there, we just want to be careful. You get them back out there and you are excited, you do not want to put too much on them. The training staff had a great plan for those guys, and we have brought them along slowly, but they were out there. You get excited because you see what you are capable of doing and the packages you can create so I look forward to getting them back in training camp when I think they will be full speed.”


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