3 biggest Cleveland Browns scapegoats during terrible campaign
2. Joe Woods, Defensive Coordinator
While Joe Woods was just mentioned as a problem, he’s also getting more unfair criticism than he deserves. Woods has been coaching football since back in 1992 and made his debut as an NFL coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 as a defensive quality control coach.
He’s been a part of some of the most impressive defenses of all time, including the Denver Broncos unit that led the way to the win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50. That year, he was the defensive backs coach and then moved to defensive coordinator in 2017. After that, he spent 2019 as the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers — where he again made it to the Super Bowl.
With that being said, it’s clear he knows football. Monday morning quarterbacks will beg to differ but he’s had success all over the place.
Again, he deserves criticism. As mentioned earlier, he’s been far too focused on putting pressure on the quarterback which has come at the expense of the ground defense. However, he’s also shown when everyone is on the same page that he can stop opposing teams.
Woods has had some great game plans against the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. He even kept Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill from making them look foolish when they played Miami this season.
Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to put it all together. A lot of that is on him for not getting the players to communicate but somewhere along the line, those players should be held accountable as well.
Many of the starters on defense make more money than Woods — and some make more than head coach Kevin Stefanski. They are professionals being asked to do their job. But for some reason, they get a pass for missed tackles, poor communication, and questionable effort while Woods takes the blame for all of that.
Take Myles Garrett for instance. He makes roughly $20 million per season and is a vocal leader of the team. Even so, he spends more time taking shots at the coaches through media than anyone else — perhaps in the league. We can say all we want that he’s right, but he’s had an issue with nearly every defensive coordinator, including Gregg Williams who has suddenly become a fan favorite. It could help to have him say the right things in public and lead by example on the field. That doesn’t mean he cannot criticize the coaching but there’s a better way to do this, and using the press is never the right way.
But that’s too much to ask, so that leads to Woods being held completely accountable. And when he’s gone in 2023, the next defensive coordinator will get the same blame when the exact same issues occur — just as Woods has gotten the same treatment as Steve Wilks, and Williams (who was not so loved when he was lining safeties up in Lake Erie).