Joe Woods became the scapegoat for the Cleveland Browns failures as he was relieved of his defensive coordinator duties after a 7-10 campaign
It’s never just one person who should take the blame when a team fails to meet expectations, but that still happens constantly in the NFL. For the Cleveland Browns, it’s been Joe Woods who has taken the brunt of the blame for the team’s struggles.
That now turns into him becoming the scapegoat as he’s been relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator.
Now, this isn’t to say Woods doesn’t deserve to be criticized, because he does. It also doesn’t mean he should have kept his job, because the defense did continually fall short.
However, pretending all of the issues fall on his shoulders is short-sighted and could lead to more disappointment.
A new defensive coordinator won’t fix the Browns
The issues that held this team back in 2022 go far beyond Woods. We can question his scheme, play-calling, and ability to communicate all day. But he’s also had to deal with a slew of injuries as well as players who believe they’re more important than the team.
Some of that falls on Kevin Stefanski, but general manager Andrew Berry deserves some of the heat as well. Berry has been a solid general manager overall but he’s also had his share of whiffs.
Berry struck out on a couple of free-agent signings, including Austin Hooper and John Johnson III. He’s also taken too many chances on players with injury concerns, and the team continues to have far too many injuries.
There’s also the outside noise that was self-inflicted. Cleveland decided to go after Deshaun Watson, knowing it would turn into a PR nightmare. They then switched quarterbacks after 11 games when Watson returned, meaning they were practically starting over for the final six games.
In the end, moving on from Woods is probably the right call but there’s much more work to be done in order to make 2023 the year they hope it will be.