Joe Woods was just named the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator, but he is already off to a good start with Cleveland’s defensive personnel.
Kevin Stefanski and the Cleveland Browns were willing to wait to hire Joe Woods as their defensive coordinator as he was helping coach the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. The organization knew he was who they needed to lead their defense, so they decided to be patient so they could hire him.
Although it was well-known the Browns would be hiring Woods for several weeks, the organization made the hiring official on Friday. In the announcement of his hiring, Woods already showed a great sign about what he plans for the Browns defensive personnel.
The Cleveland Browns defense has been running under 4-3 scheme as their base defense for the past three seasons. The Browns have built their defensive personnel to fit into the 4-3 scheme, even though most time the defense is in a sub-defense. Woods has spent time coaching both a 4-3 scheme and 3-4 scheme, but he said he will tailor his defense to fit his personnel.
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“I think you want to make sure that you’re putting the guys that you have in the right position to make plays,” Woods said. “I know the personnel here is tailored toward a 4-3 scheme, which I’m very comfortable with. We’ll stay with the 4-3 system here and focus on putting the guys in the right positions to make plays.” – Joe Woods via Andrew Gribble of ClevelandBrowns.com
Woods deciding to adjust his defense to what best suits the players on the defense is a great sign for the Browns. In 2019, Steve Wilks tried to fit the personnel into his defense, which relied heavily on Cover 3 and playing Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams in zone coverage.
Although Ward played well in Wilks’ scheme, both he and Williams are better suited to play bump-and-run, press man coverage. They excelled with that technique during their college years, which helped them become top cornerbacks in their draft classes. Even though they need to continue to develop and play multiple coverages, it would be better to play to a player’s strength more times than not.
It is evident that Woods wants to build his defense around his personnel, at least in the perspective of the defensive alignment. Since he is just starting his tenure as the Browns defensive coordinator, it remains to be seen how he decides to scheme his defense each and every week.
If he continues the trend of playing to his players strengths, it would be assumed there would be a better chance of the Browns playing more man coverage with Ward and Williams on the outside. But no matter what the Browns scheme looks like in 2020, it is a great sign that Woods wants to play to the strength of his personnel instead of forcing the personnel to fit into his defense.