Joe Woods is the real winner in Cleveland Browns 2021 offseason
The Cleveland Browns have added several free agents to the defensive side of the ball and that makes defensive coordinator Joe Woods the real winner of this offseason
There have been plenty of rave reviews coming in for the Cleveland Browns this offseason after they added some talented players in free agency. Their top addition was safety John Johnson III, but he was far from the only impactful player to be signed.
Cleveland also added Johnson’s former teammate with the Los Angeles Rams Troy Hill as well as defensive tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker Anthony Walker, and defensive end Takk McKinley. These moves give them several new starters as well as some depth on the defensive line.
With these moves, there has been a lot of praise heaped onto the shoulders of Andrew Berry but one thing that has been slightly overlooked is who has really won this offseason — defensive coordinator Joe Woods.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski added Woods to his staff last season and the former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach came in with quite the resume. Woods was part of the Broncos Super Bowl win following the 2015 season.
His job at that time was as the defensive backs coach and he led a unit known as the ‘No-Fly Zone’ which was famous for shutting down opposing receivers. He then served as the coordinator for two seasons before heading to the 49ers in 2019 where he helped them make the Super Bowl. That year, the 49ers had the No. 1 defense in terms of yardage against the pass — which was the same accomplishment he had in 2015 for Denver.
Then in 2020 during his first season with the Browns, Woods was middle of the pack. He finished 21st in points surrendered and especially bad when it came to stopping the pass (22nd in the league according to Pro Football Reference).
Cleveland’s struggles led to Woods being criticized by the fan base and some were even calling for his job. Thankfully, the Browns gave him another shot because the continuity in the coaching staff will be huge for the players.
And for Woods, it’s going to be great having a toolbox full of weapons he can use to fully implement his defense.
The addition of Johnson will allow him to go three-deep with the safeties. Having Johnson, Grant Delpit, and Ronnie Harrison means he can commit to the 4-2-5 base. He also has a much better slot corner in Troy Hill than he did in 2020 and the addition of McKinley and Jackson means his defensive line is improved from 2020.
On top of that. Walker gives them a capable starting linebacker who had 321 tackles over the past three seasons in Indianapolis. As if this wasn’t enough to be excited about, the Browns still have the draft where they’re expected to get even more help on defense.
While the jury might still be out on Woods, this offseason has been huge for him. He will finally have the players he needs to prove whether or not he should be the DC long-term in Cleveland.