Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods (7.29.22)


On if there is a specific area where the Browns defense can make a significant jump for the 2022 season:

“Every year, you go back, you do your self-scout and you look at what you did good and areas you need to improve. For us, it just really came down to situational football. There were a lot of areas that we made improvement from ’20 to ’21, but we have to get better on third down, red-zone area and things of that nature.”


On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s performance last season:

“He is a good player. He is very, very athletic and very explosive. When he puts his foot in the ground, he can go from Point A to B right now. His ability to match up in coverage and his ability to make plays in space is unique.”


On if Owusu-Koramoah did anything last season that surprised or impressed him most:

“No, as a young guy and as a rookie coming in a league year, you have to learn how the game is being played. In college, it is a little bit different in terms of what they see. For him, his first year was really how was he going to play in the box. I went back and watched every single play when he was at Notre Dame, and he was really playing out in the slot like a nickel or he was blitzing off the edge. All of the stuff in terms of playing in the box was new for him, and I thought he handled it pretty good.”


On Owusu-Koramoah’s sometimes looking like a RB on the field:

“Absolutely. We talk about our linebackers, we want them to look like the animals that they hunt. We want our linebackers to resemble running backs because those are the guys they have to defend.”


On if Owusu-Koramoah sometimes was overaggressive and over-running plays last season:

“He is kind of a ‘see ball, get ball’ type of guy, but you have to go through your key progression. We want the fast trigger in terms of executing your run gaps and your responsibilities, but you have to be patient and make sure your key takes you there. He just got ahead himself a little bit playing fast, but that just comes with experience.”


On what the Browns can add to Owusu-Koramoah’s role as a second-year player:

“You always want to activate your playmakers. At the same time, you have to make sure you are doing the right thing for the entire defense. We will always have ways to blitz him and ways to put him in certain positions in coverage. We will do a little bit more of that this year. That is just natural for any rookie going into his second year, but we definitely want to take advantage of his talents.”


On S John Johnson III mentioning the Alpha Dog competition the Browns are implementing:

“That is a secret (laughter)! I will not get into all of the details, but basically we try to make our practices like games. We try to churn all of the information and then we keep track of the guys leading each category and teams leading each category and then there may be a reward at the end.”


On if there are four teams competing for Alpha Dog and who determined the teams:

“Four teams. We have a little cabinet that divides it up. We just try to balance out the teams. We are definitely going to get into Alpha Dog mode here in a couple days.”


On if he expects the Browns defense to pick up where it left off last season, particularly with the continuity:

“When you can bring back the same staff and the majority of players, you feel like you can do more defensively because the guys understand the system. I put more on the guys in the offseason and put more on them right now in training camp just in terms of the amount of defenses that we are installing, and you just feel like with those guys understanding it, now we can get to another level of what we can do defensively. Just bringing guys back, it is just continuity and everybody understanding the schemes and the techniques that we are asking them to play.”


On why that type of continuity on offense in 2021 did not improve production from 2020:

“I could not answer that. I pay no attention to that to be honest with you.”


On if Owusu-Koramoah has another potential level to reach for playing speed:

“I think his level is pretty good where he is at. Him, I think it is just more understanding his responsibilities and again just letting keys take him to where he is supposed to go. I think he will be more consistent that way this year, but you are still going to see the speed and the quickness.”


On how DT Jordan Elliott has improved since last year:

“I think he has changed his body. I asked him when he came in for training camp, we reported, I saw him and I was like, ‘Man, you are looking good. How much do you weigh?’ I think he was in the 320s somewhere, but he looks like he weighs 280. That is the way you want the big guys to look, big athletes. I think for him, it is his confidence. He has been in the system going into his third year. (Defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin has done a great job teaching him, but now he knows the expectations and what is going to be asked of him, and we definitely need him to step up for us this year.”


On how rare it is to add to a rookie’s plate like the Browns did with Owusu-Koramoah last year and it result in that type of success:

“The guys who are on the field are normally the guys that can handle it when you get rookies. You have to be careful because you guys see the ability he has so if you are sitting there on the grease board drawing all types of things up, but at the same time, they have to be able to handle it. We slowly added things to his plate along with the rest of the defense, and I felt like he did a good job.”


On Johnson’s comments about the potential of the three-S formation:

“He is politicking (laughter). The three-safety package is good for us. There are some other things that we are going to do this year, but I always feel like defensively, I want to dictate the matchups, not what the offense is doing when you can go three safeties or you can put more corners on. We have all type of packages, but we will slowly introduce it so that way where feel like we have more control in what we are doing defensively.”


On if forcing turnovers is an emphasis during training camp:

“Absolutely. That is what we live and breathe. That is in our DNA is we want to take away the football. We have not done as good of a job the previous two years. I think we were right in 19th or 20th in the NFL. We greatly have to improve that because that is one of the major categories that you have to note, if not the most important category, when it comes to winning games.”


On if the Browns consider two LBs the team’s base defense:

“When we go to base personnel against offenses, our base defense is three linebackers. When we go to nickel, then we will go to two linebackers and bring another DB in. If we go dime, then we will just have one linebacker on the field. You have (S) Ronnie (Harrison Jr.), you have (LB) Jacob (Phillips) and you have (LBs) Sione (Takitaki) and JOK (Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) so you can create a lot of different things out there.”


On the balance of adding new elements to the defense but not making the scheme too complicated:

“That is kind of what I have been trying to say. There are a lot of things that you can do defensively, but you have to be able to practice it and you have to be able to execute it on gameday. When you get to the point where you feel like guys are not executing and making too many mistakes, that is when you have to really look at the menu and maybe you have to pull back a little bit.”


On who will play nickel CB, in addition to CB Greg Newsome II:

“We are training everybody. We have seven guys we are training right now. That is what we do with all of the guys. We always try to train everybody who has that type of skillset to play the nickel position. Throughout training camp and throughout the preseason, there are going to be multiple guys playing the nickel position and just see how it sorts out.”


On some Browns DBs being trained at nickel CB not playing the position prior to this season:

“No, but they were not asked to play nickel in college. We train them all and see who can do it.”


On if any of the Browns Ss could play nickel CB:

“Absolutely. The more you can do, the better.”


On S Grant Delpit’s past performance potential:

“For Grant, he was coming off of that injury. I think early on in the season, he was kind of feeling his way like, ‘Am I really back?’ I remember just watching the whole season just watching him and tracking him the whole season, you could see him get better and you could see the confidence. With him, he really sees the field well. You do not ever see him really wasting steps. I think the instincts really play a big part of it for him and then you have all of the size, length and ability he has. He got better last year, and we look for him to have a good year for us this year, as well.”


On Newsome gaining experience at nickel CB last year and if Newsome’s willingness and eagerness to play nickel CB factors into the decision to continue to play him there in 2022:

“The more you can do, the better. It gives us flexibility on the defense. He likes it in there. The nickel position is a good position because you can get away with a lot of things. You are close to the ball. We blitz you. He has picked it up. He is doing really well so far.”


On if the Browns need more experience at DT:

“No, I think we are in a position where we are trying to develop young players, along with some free agents. At certain times within a team, you are going to have those moments where you are developing young guys at a position. For us this year, we have some youth at the defensive tackle position, but they are talented. Along the way, they are probably going to make some mistakes as they are growing into the position and learning it, but I think that is just a process we are going to have to go through this year.”


On how LB Anthony Walker Jr. starting training camp on NFI creates opportunities for LB Jacob Phillips:

“They are still in competition. Jacob has been fighting that injury bug for the last couple of years. He is healthy right now. He s playing with a lot of confidence. He is a good leader. When Anthony gets back, they will still be in competition for that MIKE position.”


On reactions to comments from Browns players that the defense has the potential to be one of the top units and secondaries in the league this season:

“I do like the confidence, but that is something that we want to keep internal within the confines of our walls in the defensive meeting room. I do like the confidence from the players. I do feel like we have a chance to have a good defense, but you have to prove it – you can’t talk about it; you have to do it between the white lines.”


On how much continuity at DB and the unit’s performance late last season benefits the Browns:

“It definitely helped us. A lot of guys had to play, but now they are getting that game experience. When they go out there on gameday and the lights come on, they are used to it. They have been there. They have done that. For us, the multiple packages we use and moving guys around, that just helps us going into this year because we know we can do it.”


On what the ‘next level’ looks like for DE Myles Garrett:

“Myles obviously is a great player, but I know he puts a lot of pressure on himself to play better and to do more. That is just Myles being Myles. For me, I just want him to play within the scheme of the defense, and the production will come for him. He is definitely a leader of our defense, and I know he is trying to bring guys along and really have a great year.”


On the decision to play press or off coverage and if the team has more confidence in playing more press coverage this season:

“I am just a press guy. That is just me. I just like to challenge the receivers and make it hard for them to get off of the ball and hard for the quarterback to make that completion. Over the course of my career, I have always had some bigger, talented corners who were able to press, and we have a whole bunch of them here. We are going to be as aggressive as we can when we play man coverage.”


On CB Denzel Ward starting training camp on active/PUP and the impact of it:

“He is still there. He can’t do anything physically, but he still comes to all of the meetings and we have some walkthroughs and teaching guys techniques. I think it just gives other guys the opportunity to get reps – (CB) MJ Emerson can get more reps and some different combinations on the field. It helps out, and we know we will get Denzel back in a couple of weeks.”


On Emerson’s performance thus far and if Emerson is competing with CB Greedy Williams for the No. 3 CB position:

“We will see. That is part of training camp and preseason, but he is a very big corner. I walk by him and you look at him sometimes, and you think he is a linebacker. He is a big corner. He has the length. That is the way we like them, just because of the style of defense we like to play. He is a smart guy. He is picking things up. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do this year.”


On CB A.J. Green entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent and if Green has proven himself:

“He has proven himself. Last year, he stepped up. He had some premium matchups against some of the better receivers in this league and did a nice job. For him this year, he is part of the equation. Again, it excites me because I know there are more things that I can do.”


On if Green is training at nickel CB:

“We are training him. Train everybody.”


On if the Alpha Dog receives a prize:

“There may be. There may be a prize – a couple of them.”


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