Joe Woods Spoke to the Media Today 1/6/22

On when the Browns defense fully established its identity this season, particularly given its strong performances in recent weeks:

“Week in and week out, the challenges are so different based on the team you are playing and the different styles of offense. I feel like it was something throughout the season, just a different challenge and just a different type of games we played that we just kind of developed and found our chemistry and guys working together. I think playing Baltimore, even after the games we played against them last year, I think that was a big game for us on the schedule. The first game, we played them really well. With all of that and with all of those games that you play like that, I think guys get confident, and I think the last couple of games of the year, I think the guys really played more consistently.”

On how much he was able to incorporate with the Browns defense this season:

“We definitely got more into the menu. It is just one of those things where that are a lot of things that you want to do, but how much can the guys handle. I am not using everything that we have defensively, but it definitely got much more into our package, especially the last couple of games.”

On DE Jadeveon Clowney’s performance this season:

“He played really well for us this year. He battled through some of the injuries, but I think if you ask him, it is probably the healthiest he has felt in a long time. The production is really good. He played really well for us in the last game. I do not know what his future has and holds for him, but I definitely like him being part of our defensive front.”

On the prospect of Clowney returning next season:

“I have not had those discussions yet. That is something in the offseason we will definitely talk about. Just based on what he has done this year from a production standpoint, I think the things he has added in our locker room and the D line gelling, I think all of those things are positives for him. We will just see where it goes.”

On the Browns signing players to one-year contracts last season and looking to establish the defense for the future:

“I think we did a good job. Really the first two years here, we had to add a lot of guys in free agency. I think the heart and soul of what you try to do, whether offensive or defensive, is really through the draft, and you just add those final touches and those final pieces through free agency. There is going to be turnover. It is just the nature of the NFL. There is going to be turnover. We will have new guys and new free agents, but I really feel like when you look at (DT) Jordan Elliott, he has been here a couple years, you look at (LB) Jeremiah (Owusu-Koramoah) and you look at the back end with (CB) Greg (Newsome), and we already have (CB) Denzel (Ward), I think there are some really good pieces and really good cornerstones, outside of obviously (DE) Myles (Garrett), who are there. We just have to continue to add to that and continue to develop the players we have, but I really feel good where we are right now from a personnel standpoint.”

On Ward’s performance this season:

“I think early on he was pressing a little bit. To me, he is a legitimate No. 1 corner just from a size, length and skill standpoint and his ability to matchup and play anybody one on one. I think early in the season, he was pressing too much. The biggest thing I talked to him about is just do your job. If you do your job and play your technique, plays will be there. I think he settled down and really just started trusting his technique and not doing too much, and the plays started to come.”

On Garrett’s performance this season and most significant areas of growth:

“With Myles, he is so dominant as a player that I think that sometimes, just the guys who I have been around over the years – (Rams OLB) Von Miller, (former NFL OLB) Demarcus Ware – things come easy to those guys. I think with Myles, he is so dominant that it is really just playing it at the highest level possible on every single snap. I think you guys all saw that this year and some of the games he was able to take over. For me, moving forward with Myles, it is just let’s have that type of performance as many times as possible. Continue to lead this defense. They will follow you. I think he has really tried to step up and become that type of person for us defensively, and he will continue to do that into next season.”

On how much Garrett’s groin injury impacted performance in the past two weeks and if there is a hope for a strong finish, given Garrett was not listed on yesterday’s injury report:

“Definitely. Is he 100 percent? No, but his mindset is to do everything possible to help this team win. I know a few games ago he was not 100 percent. I know you guys could see that. I think his mindset, what he means to this defense and what he is willing to do is really important. The guys see that, and they really just try to play better around him.” 

On Owusu-Koramoah’s performance this season and Owusu-Koramoah’s future and opportunities for growth:

“The sky is the limit for JOK. He is so dynamic in so many different areas. His ability to blitz. His ability to match up in coverage and make plays in space. Throughout the season as he got more comfortable, you really saw his abilities just show up in different areas at times. In college, he was really out playing over the slot or he was blitzing off of the edge in college. The things we were asking him to do, it took him a little time to get it. I think he really feels comfortable. You can see him in practice being more confident. I really believe the sky is the limit. I think he can be a dynamic player for a long time for us.”

On CB Greg Newsome II’s performance this season and Newsome’s growth and potential:

“He is definitely another guy who I think he has improved throughout the season. For me, just being a DB guy and coaching corners, it is always those games where you have those premium matchups. He played throughout the season with some really good receivers who he had to play against and made some plays against them. This last game, we knew what type of game it was, and they went after him in the RPO throws, and I think he stood up three times in a row and had three PBUs. For him, the confidence is there because he has played against really good receivers and made plays. Again for him, he is a guy who is going to be here for a long time and give us a lot of good play outside at corner and inside in the slot.”

On Newsome’ and Ward’s ability to be effective against bigger NFL WRs like Steelers WR Chase Claypool:

“They do have size and length, and some of those receivers are like 6’4” or 6’5”, but at corner, if you have a corner who is 6’ or 6’1” and they have good length, those are the type of guys you want to match up against those type of receivers. That is really one of the reasons why we looked in the draft that he was one of the guys who we wanted because he did have size and length compared to some of the other guys. For Denzel and Greg, it is confidence. That is the one thing with Greg when he came in, very smart, very confident and very competitive. I think you guys have seen that show up throughout the season, just in terms of the matchups that he ended up going against week in and week out.”

On CB Greedy Williams’ performance this season after spending all of the 2020 season on injured reserve:

“I am proud of Greedy. He is not 100 percent coming off of the injury. It is just something at times he was continuing to work through. At times during the season, he got a little banged up, but he came back. When we did lose Denzel at times, he had to step up, and we lost Greg and he had to step up, and he made big plays for us in several games. To have those three corners – at least those three corners – that makes you feel good as a coordinator because you feel like you can call anything on your gameplan.”

On DT Malik McDowell’s performance this season after spending a few years away from football:

“He did a good job. I am so happy for him with just everything he has gone through in his life to get through this point and to have a second opportunity. I know when we first had him, we just did not know. There was a lot of unknown about him, but I think week in and week out, he trusted the coaching. (Defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin and (assistant defensive line) Coach (Jeremy) Garrett did a great job with him. I refer to him as ‘Baby Huey.’ He just has that natural strength, and you saw it at times. I think for him to go through a normal offseason with his strength and conditioning, taking care of his nutrition and going through the defense hearing it from scratch, I think for him, too, he can be a dominant player as a defensive lineman in this league for a long time, as well.”

On if he was confident Ward was a No. 1 NFL CB prior to this season:

“I thought that. I have always kept track of every DB since 2006 who I have ever evaluated. You remember the guys who were the top guys coming out. When you look at him from a height and length standpoint, from the speed and from his quickness, that is what you really want in a No. 1 corner because he can match up with big guys and he can match up with quick guys. When you have that combination, you really have a chance to have a special player. I definitely believe Denzel is that type of player, and I still feel like he has areas that he can improve and make him even better.”

On the importance of having CBs like Newsome, Ward and Williams when facing teams like the Bengals with multiple dynamic WRs and a strong QB:

“Very important. This league is all about matchups – do you have the ability to win your one on ones week in and week out? As I mentioned earlier, when you have three corners, you feel like you can go No. 1, 2 and 3 and match up with anybody you put on the field. That is when you just need confidence, especially with what those guys have done so far this season.”

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