Cleveland Browns will have a ‘special’ coach joining the coaching staff
New Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has slowly built his coaching staff, but he will be adding a coach who some believe is a “special” coach.
Since the end of the 2019 season and the firings of Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey, the Cleveland Browns have had a meticulous start to the offseason. Not only were they patient with their head coaching search, but they also took their time with their general manager search.
After being hired as head coach, Kevin Stefanski has continued the patient approach to the offseason when it has come to building his coaching staff. Since being officially hired as head coach on January 13, Stefanski has only officially hired two coaches to his staff, while retaining three other coaches from Kitchens’ coaching staff.
Even though the Browns have only officially hired or retained a few coaches, there are several coaches who are expected to be joining his staff. One of those coaches will be coaching in the Super Bowl, so that has been the reason for the delay in his hiring.
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San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach and defensive pass game coordinator Joe Woods is expected to be named Stefanski’s defensive coordinator shortly after the Super Bowl. The 49-year-old was with Stefanski for eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
Woods has been credited with helping the 49ers secondary excel in 2019. The 49ers boasted the best passing defense in the NFL during the 2019 regular season, allowing only 169.2 passing yards per game.
His impact on the defense was not lost on 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Although Saleh received the most praise for the 49ers defense, Saleh told Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot that the 49ers would have loved to keep Woods staff.
"“Absolutely,’’ Saleh, a finalist for the Browns’ head coach job along with Kevin Stefanski, told cleveland.com on Wednesday. “A guy like Joe Woods, there’s not a lot of great coaches in this league, and he’s one of them and he’s special. Obviously losing him is going to hurt.’’ – Robert Saleh via Cleveland.com"
The Browns have two young cornerbacks who have plenty of potential to tap into with Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. However, they struggled in 2019 as Steve Wilks tried to fit the young corners into his heavy zone coverage.
Woods’ experience as a defensive backs coach and brief stint as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos should help Ward and Williams in 2020, as well as the rest of the secondary. Instead of trying to fit the players around his scheme, Woods’ knowledge of defensive backs should help him acknowledge it would be better to fit his scheme around the players.
Saleh is one of the next best up-and-coming coaches in the NFL, but it is clear he knows Woods was a big part of the defense’s success in 2019. When the Browns can officially hire Woods as defensive coordinator, it is a hiring that should generate excitement if he truly is the special coach that Saleh believes he is.