CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has yet to name the defensive coordinator for his inaugural coaching staff, but that does not mean he has not found a top contender.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Stefanski and the Browns are working to bring in San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Joe Woods as the “next defensive coordinator if the two sides can agree to a contract.”
The Browns have to wait to make things official with Woods because the 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game in Santa Clara, California Sunday, and earned the right to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on February 2.
Woods has 16 years of coaching experience at the National Football League level, as well as 12 years in the college game.
Prior to joining San Francisco’s coaching staff for the 2019 season, Woods spent four years with the Denver Broncos, including two as defensive backs coach (2015-2016) and the final two as defensive coordinator (2017-2018).
Also, Woods worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (secondary coach, 2004-2005), Minnesota Vikings (defensive backs, 2006-2013) and Oakland Raiders (defensive backs, 2014). It was in Minnesota that Woods worked alongside Stefanski.
In his two years with the Buccaneers, Woods helped Tampa Bay have top 10 defenses against the pass and cornerback Ronde Barber twice earn First-Team All-Pro recognition.
During his time with the Vikings, Woods helped cornerback Antoine Winfield earn the only three Pro Bowl selections of his career (2008-2010).
After working with a sure-fire future Pro Football Hall of Fame member in Charles Woodson with the Raiders, Woods moved onto the Broncos, where each of Denver’s starting defensive backs (cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, along with safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart) earned Pro Bowl selections.
Woods’ defensive backfield in 2015-2016 led the NFL with seven defensive touchdowns with six interception returns for scores and one more on a fumble return.
During the 2019 season, the Browns’ defense struggled mightily to stop the run, especially after star defensive end Myles Garrett was suspended indefinitely for his role in a brawl with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the waning seconds of a Browns win at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland in Week 11.
The Browns allowed 144.7 rushing yards per game, which ranked as the third-worst in the NFL, and were 20th in points (24.6) and 22nd in total yards (361.6) in 2019. Against the pass, the Browns ranked seventh in the league, allowing 216.9 yards per game.