Browns DC Joe Woods on Their New Look Defense

On if he has questions about the Browns defense due to not having the starting 11 players collectively together on the field much during training camp and the regular season:

“I think you always have questions. You go through the preseason and you make those evaluations, but everybody does not play. I feel good in terms of where we are, but it is going to be that first game and that pressure. It is a big game, a hostile environment, but I think we are ready to go, and we will see what happens.”

On how much it helps that many new additions on defense are veteran players with experience playing in significant games:

“I think that is critical. Part of the free agent process, we wanted to bring some guys in who had veteran experience. If you look at (S) John Johnson (III), (CB) Troy Hill, I was with (DE) Malik Jackson, (LB) and Anthony Walker (Jr.), all of those guys have played in big games. You feel that comfort because you know they have that leadership, and they have been there and, done that. It has really been a bunch of good additions to our defense.”

On what packages LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will be involved:

“Hopefully, all of them, but we do not want to put too much on him. We know he is very talented, but at the same time, he is young. When you see a guy that like that, for me, you want to draw a whole bunch of things up on the board, but we are going to be smart in terms of what we ask him to do. We will match him up in coverage at times. We will blitz him at times. We will drop him in zone. We are going to give him a little bit of everything but not too much.”

On Owusu-Koramoah potentially covering TE Travis Kelce a challenge in itself for his first NFL game, in addition to working into the defensive system and not putting too much on his plate:

“Probably (laughter). Travis is one of the better tight ends in the NFL. You are always going to have your hands full with him, regardless of who you put on him – linebacker, safety or DBs. There are multiple things we need to do just to help whoever is covering him.”

On if it helps to have Johnson to communicate and help speed up the gelling process:

“Yeah. All of it. You talk about JJ, all of the guys – Troy and Anthony Walker – they do a great job communicating and making sure we are on the same page. That is a big part of it. We just want to make sure that we execute what we are trying to do and not beat ourselves.”

On what is it like to get caught up in an offensive shootout as a defensive coordinator:

“Those are tough ones. Those are not exciting for us. You see those games as being classics, that is not a classic for the defensive coordinator (laughter). You hope it does not turn into a game like that, but you understand that you have a very explosive offense. We really have to rely on doing our job, try to keep a lid on the defense and just be great making plays in space.”

On how to help coach defensive players to stick with a play until it is 100 percent over when facing an offense and player like Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes who can extend plays:

“Just in my past when we have played guys like that, the motto is you have to cover place. Initially, if you execute your coverage responsibilities, he may escape. Hopefully, the rush gets him down, but you have to be ready to plaster those guys in coverage. That is what we talked about all week. Everybody that plays him knows that so we are going to have to do a great job, rush and coverage working together.”

On if the Chiefs are the toughest team to scheme for in the NFL due to the mismatches the offense can create:

“First of all, you look at the ability they have at all their skill positions. Then it is what do they do offensively. (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and (offensive coordinator) Coach (Eric) Bieniemy, they do a great job. They really scheme you up, they stress off your coverage and they make you cover the field vertically and horizontally and then when you do it right, you have to make the tackle. Tough to defend – good scheme and good players – but we feel good where we are. We just have to execute.”

On if the Browns expect to see a four TE package from the Chiefs in the red zone, which they showed during the preseason:

“You never know with Coach Reid just over the years. I think this is my 17th game coaching against him. You never know. That can come out anywhere. That is where you have to be prepared to defend any personnel package any place on the field.”

On if Reid has surprised him with a new wrinkle every time they have faced each other:

“I try not to be surprised, but you just never know what is coming. Mentally, you just have to be prepared for it as a play caller.”

On if the AFC Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs had the biggest impact in knowing determining what the team needed to get to the next level, including with player acquisitions:

“No, we want to go back and really look at the whole season, like areas where we can grow just in terms of personnel, and for me, what we can do better scheme-wise. For me, getting into this scheme, we are trying to do a little bit of this this year, not all at once but slowly put it in. When you go back, you just want to add quality players on all levels of your defense. I think that was a big factor, as well as guys who have played a long time in this league who have experience.”

On how much of a focus it was to add speed to the Browns defense this past offseason:

“I definitely feel the speed, the guys we drafted and the guys we signed in free agency. The NFL, the game is changing. It is like playing basketball on grass against some teams. They want to spread the field, get you one on one and see if you can make a tackle. Getting more speed and guys who have more cover skills really at all three levels of the defense is critical in today’s football.”

On if it realistic to carve a role for S Grant Delpit against the Chiefs, given the amount of practice time missed:

“We will have to evaluate that really day by day. He has been involved. He has been in all the walkthroughs. He takes reps out there so he definitely understands what he is doing, and we want to make sure that he is healthy enough to play.”

On how he prepares the defense for knowing what to believe when the Chiefs offense starts to motion and other pre-snap shifting:

“Schematically for us, we know the issues that they present, but it is really about getting aligned, getting to your right spot based on the motion and then getting focused in on your key. It is hard against these guys, but that is what you have to do in order to have success. We just have to be really good in executing our defense, regardless of how they get to certain plays based on shifts, motion or just lining in certain formations.”

On if the Chiefs are the most creative team in the red zone:

“There are a lot of creative teams, but they are right up there. They have been like that for years. They do a great job scheming you up and trying to take advantage of your coverage concepts or matchups on certain people. You really have to be dialed in in terms of what you are doing, and you really have to be detailed at every position in terms of gap responsibility and coverage responsibility.”

On if DE Jadeveon Clowney is back at practice today:

“He is ill. He will be fine. I think last week just going through all of the practices, we installed some things so hopefully, we get him back here in the next couple of days.”

On his comfort level with DEs Joe Jackson and Takk McKinley if Clowney is not able to play:

“I feel comfortable. We want to send waves of defensive linemen at people. That is the way we are built any way. I feel comfortable where Takk is. Joe Jackson understands the system. Again, hopefully we get JD back here in a day or two.”

On if he if currently worried about Clowney not being able to play on Sunday:

“No. No.”

On if he has a sense of the team’s collective mindset entering the season and how important Head Coach Kevin Stefanski is to shaping that mindset:

“Kevin is huge. He has done a great job ever since he got here. I think he established the culture for the entire team. We talk about it every week. The guys have the right mindset in terms of how we have to approach the game. For us, it is always about working and doing what we do better. It really comes down to about how we play against our opponents.”

On if he expects CB Greg Newsome II to be targeted throughout the game, given he is a rookie, and if there are certain teams or QBs who specifically target rookies to test them:

“A lot of them. They see it is like a bullseye out there, but Greg is a very confident player and a very smart player. He is going to execute his responsibilities. With young guys – I have coached a lot of guys out there – you just get better with time. It is the reps. You can try to get them prepared, but until you get them out there, the lights are on and you feel that pressure, right? There are things he is going to do and he may not do it perfectly, but we will be able to correct it.”

On if Newsome is ‘as good as he could be’ without playing his first NFL game:


On the toughest aspect of Mahomes’ game to defend:

“Just keeping plays alive. He extends plays. It is the whole thing of covering place because you can do your job perfectly and the rush can be perfect, and he will find a way to escape. You have to be able to plaster. He is very creative in terms of making plays when he is on the move.”

On the Buccaneers being able to move Mahomes off of his desired positions in the Super Bowl win and if that provided a blueprint to other NFL teams:

“I think most teams kind of do what they do. I think part of the scheme with Tampa – I have not studied them – you feel like they were doing what they do best. I think they got a lead on those guys early, and then they were able to rush and play good coverage. We look at the game like everybody else, but we want to make sure we stay true to what we do. If there is anything we can take from them, we will take it.”

On the Chiefs new OL:

“Big. Strong. Physical. Can block. They do a good job of keeping Mahomes clean. I think it is their whole offensive concept – just the mixture of the run game, the RPOs and the play action – they do enough of everything to keep you off balance. Those guys have done a great job so far in the preseason from what I have seen.”

On if is beneficial to the team that the Chiefs played their starters a significant amount in the preseason:

“I think part of that – obviously I do not know – was probably figuring out how those guys played together. That is probably why they played a little bit more in the preseason. He normally does that with his starters anyway. They seemed like they gelled, just looking at them just running the system. We are going to have our hands full with those guys for sure.”

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