Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods (9.8.22)


On how much film of former Browns and Panthers QB Baker Mayfield he has been watching in preparation for Sunday’s game:

“A lot.”


On if the Browns watch film from Mayfield’s time in Cleveland, in addition to the Panthers:

“I feel like we have seen him, just because we practiced against him with OTAs, training camp and during the season. Definitely feel familiar with what he has done when he was here, but really try to focus on what he is doing in Carolina because it is different scheme they are going to try to use with him.”


On how Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey stresses opposing defenses:

“McCaffrey definitely stresses the defense everywhere – I don’t care if he is running it, if he is getting out on passes or they align him outside as a receiver. He is an elite athlete capable of doing anything. Power, quickness, speed and all of that. Definitely going to have a plan for him.”


On how Browns defensive players’ speed can help when facing a player like McCaffrey:

“You want to use multiple schemes against a guy like that. He did not play a lot or play any [during the preseason] so you have to kind of go back. You don’t know exactly how they are going to use him, but we definitely have to have multiple things to handle him.”


On if the Browns enter essentially every game with the expectation that DE Myles Garrett will be subject to double-team and triple-team blocks:

“You have to have a rush plan. He is always on the edge. They know where he is. We know he is good out on the edge so you want him to do what he does well, but at the same time, you want to move him around, try to create matchups and try to make it hard on them to find him in terms of what they are trying to do in terms of protection.”


On if the Panthers may approach blocking schemes for Garrett differently than other teams, given Panthers T Ikem Ekwonu is starting at LT as a rookie:

“Most of the teams have a plan for him so we are assuming they are going to try to do something, whether they try to chip Myles pr bring the protection to him. We always have to plan for that every week.”


On if it is ‘possible to know too much about’ Mayfield and ‘know him too well,’ potentially resulting in overthinking the defensive gameplan related to Mayfield:

“The whole week when I have talked to the defense, I know that we all know Baker – he was here for a long time – but we really treat him like any other quarterback week to week. We were not talking about him any different way making it more than it is because they have different players. They have good receivers. They have a good running back. They are talented so we have to worry about trying to stop everything that they do, and he is just a part of it.”


On if Mayfield looks different in Carolina than when in Cleveland:

“No, not really from my eyes. I am not out there studying quarterbacks in [Browns] practice because I am kind of worried about the defense and trying to make adjustments. Just from general knowledge, he looks like the same guy. We know he has the arm strength, and he can make all of the throws. We know he has escape-ability in the pocket – you have seen that in the preseason. We know that he can read defenses. Those are the things that we are familiar with him being here, and those are things that have shown up with him in the preseason.”


On if some Browns film of Mayfield from 2021 may not be as relevant due to the fact Mayfield was playing with an injury:

“We really did not spend a lot of time… Everybody is familiar with him that is here. We know his toughness. He has that warrior mentality just playing through that injury so we know what type of guy he is, but we really spent most of our time trying to study what he did in the preseason.”


On how much time the Browns think about Mayfield’s familiarity with Cleveland’s defensive personnel and schemes:

“There are good things about it, and there are bad things about it. I don’t know how much time he is putting into that because things change for us and things change for them. If he spends time worrying thinking we are going to do a certain thing and we do something different, then that it is going to hurt him. He is probably just going at it and going through his key progression just seeing what we are going to do, and we are trying to approach it the same way. Do I think about it? Yes, but at the same time, we just have to go out and execute our defensive plan.”


On if the Browns may be more motivated based on reported comments by Mayfield in recent weeks, which Mayfield also said were not accurate, given comments by Garrett and CB Greg Newsome II that they would use it:

“That is those guys. I have never talked about that in our meetings. I don’t try to ride the emotional roller coaster of what is written in articles. During the season, I really don’t read them. You see the headlines – ‘Oh, he said something’ – but that is not something that I am worried about and that is not something that I talk to the defense about. We just have to go out and play their whole team – Browns versus Panthers.”


On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s game being strong in speed and anticipation while also being physical, how impressive that is and if he ever worries that Owusu-Koramoah could benefit from being heavier when hitting larger players:

“That is something that he knows and we are definitely working on. I know he sees our nutritionist just in terms of his eating habits. That position, it is physical. You are taking on linemen. You are taking on backs. He has that unique ability to kind of slip blocks. You see his explosiveness. It is definitely something we focus on. We like his athletic ability and his ability to go matchup in coverage, especially against a back like we are going to face this week.”


On if the Browns can use the film from the Cleveland at Pittsburgh game last season to find ideas to defend Mayfield:

“No, our focus is really on just the current tape. It is just because of offensive scheme. What are they asking him to do? What are they doing with him within Coach (Panthers offensive coordinator Ben) McAdoo’s scheme? That is what we are really focused on.”


On if the Panthers have been moving Mayfield out of the pocket on keepers and bootlegs:

“You see a little bit of it. It is preseason. In preseason, you try to run your main plays just so you get practice at them, fixing techniques and things of that nature, but you know that there is stuff that they didn’t run. For us, we have to gameplan for what we saw, but at the same time, we know there is going to be new plays.”


On LB Anthony Walker Jr. being named the starting MIKE while LB Jacob Phillips will also see significant playing time and how the team determines the rotation:

“That is what we have always done. For our three years here, we have always rotated different positions. Obviously, D line but at linebacker, that is what we have done. We feel comfortable with that. Really, you say 11 starters, but I feel like we have more than that. If you are out on the field, you are good enough to be a starter for us.”


On if the Browns have specific packages for Phillips and Walker or if they will split time based on series:

“It is a little bit of both. A little bit of both with multiple linebackers.”


On S D’Anthony Bell making the team as an undrafted rookie and what Bell offers the Browns defense:

“Versatility. He has size. He has speed. He has that four-leaf clover – he is always around the ball and created a lot of takeaways in the preseason. He really pays attention. He is wired into the meetings. He is really they type of guy you want to coach. I think his effort and energy he brings, the guys are always excited when he makes plays so you can see that they are cheering for him. I am very excited that he made the team. He definitely earned it.”


On Bell having ballhawk ability and if Bell’s ability in that aspect can help fill the role of former Browns and Texans DB M.J. Stewart:

“There are multiple things that he does for us. At the same time, you don’t want to put too much on his plate, but he is playing two or three positions for us right now.”


On if the Browns defense has been able to add new schemes and approaches this year to create a ‘new brand’ of defense, given the team had several new players and injuries within the unit in 2021:

“For sure. That was a positive just that we have more guys coming back – our whole back seven, our linebacker crew and then the defensive ends and a couple of tackles. For the first time, I thought there was a lot of continuity in terms of guys coming back so they have more understanding of the system, which is going to allow us to add more. We don’t want to do too much, but I think there are more things that you can do this year for sure.”


On if the newness of the Browns defense in 2021 was the biggest factor that led to a slower start to the season:

“I think just getting familiar because we didn’t have much of an offseason – I know different teams did. I think once we went through training camp… You see different schemes so you are fixing different things every week, and then you get to the point where it is kind of all the same. I felt like guys started getting comfortable. We were playing cleaner football and not making as many mistakes, I think I got better calling it and knowing that and then I feel like we started to play more consistent defense toward the end.”


On what he believes Garrett’s mindset is heading into this season:

“He is playing at another level in practice. This guy is coming off the edge two feet from the ground. It is impressive, and he looks like a running back playing defensive end. From a leadership standpoint, I think he really is trying to take over that room not only vocally but by example of what he is doing. I definitely feel like his mindset is to be a dominant player this year. I know it always is, but it just feels different from what I saw so far in practice.”


On if he noticed that difference in Garrett’s mindset and performance immediately when returning to training camp:

“You just saw a little bit of it every day. It is just different. I don’t know. It is just like he has a mindset to dominate and it is just the focus. You can see it. It is not that I am talking to him a lot – it is just like, ‘Man.’ Definitely looking forward to him having a big season for us.”


On what more the Browns will ask Owusu-Koramoah to do in the defense this season:

“I know I get a lot of questions about JOK and everything we are doing. It is not only him. We have other young guys, as well. We have new guys just in terms of free agents. You want guys to go out and play fast and execute. There are a lot of different things that we can do schematically, but it is can you handle it because you only have so many reps during the course of the week to practice it. With him, we knew he was a dynamic player, but at the same time, we didn’t want to do so much that he couldn’t play fast. He has a better understanding of the defense, as well as the other guys, so there are more things we can do in terms of different blitz packages and where we are putting them. We will slowly do that, but we will definitely do more with him and everybody else this year.”


On Newsome improving upon his ball skills:

“He is definitely working harder in terms of getting better with his ball skills. We have an opportunity period at the end of each practice. It is just a focus [period]. There are different things that we do. He has been spending a lot of time getting on the JUGS, just working on his hands and catching deep balls. To me, it is just a confidence thing. Once you get it and you have confidence in getting the ball, then they will start coming.”


On if the Browns’ Alpha Dawg competition is complete:

“Starting it back up.”


On if the Browns had a separate Alpha Dawg competition specific to training camp:

“Yes. I always preach to make everything game-like. What we do is monotonous. You go out there and do it over and over again. Boredom creeps in. Always just trying to press those guys to treat every practice like a game. That is kind of how the Alpha Dawg came about. We just acknowledged who won as an individual, who won as a team and who was the Bone Collector, just in terms of takeaways.”


On if prizes were awarded to the winners of the Alpha Dawg competition:

“I am not sure. Maybe.”


On the winners of the Alpha Dawg competition:

“Should I tell them (laughter)? JOK won the Alpha Dawg. Team (S John) Johnson (III) were the team winners. D’Anthony Bell won the Bone Collector.”


On if Owusu-Koramoah was on Team Johnson for the Alpha Dawg competition:

“Yes, they were loaded.”


On how the team can keep practice fresh and not be overly repetitive:

“I think a lot of it is players being self-motivated because it is a job for them. It is their job to go out there and to practice and to perform every day. They want to play at their best, and we want to play at our best. I think the things we try to do is emphasize who we want to be as a defense and our identity. We want to be a team that takes away the ball, and we want to be a team that plays with relentless effort. Those are the things that we preach. As we evaluate practice, that is where I will go in, I will talk to the team and I will show them clips from practice where I feel like we are doing things really well and areas that we need to improve. It is always trying to keep that pressure on them just to perform at your highest level every day.”


On further defining the Bone Collector award of the Alpha Dawg competition:

“Just whoever led us in takeaways. Just something I did everywhere I went and just changed the name a little bit.”


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