Is Joe Woods defensive scheme ready to try to slow Chiefs offense?
The Cleveland Browns defense was a weak link for the team in 2020. Despite that, mostly due to a stellar offense, somewhat easy schedule and a few key defenders, the Browns were able to make the NFL playoffs.
In the postseason, Cleveland knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers due to some errors by the Steelers offense that the Browns defense was able to take advantage of. In the following round, the Kansas City Chiefs lost star quarterback Patrick Mahomes early in the game but the Cleveland defense couldn’t do enough to stop the Chad Henne-led Chiefs offense.
This offseason, the Browns front office went about remaking the team’s defense to give defensive coordinator Joe Woods the ability to match up with offenses like the Chiefs. While the NFL has setup rules that mostly favor the offense, having a defense that is talented enough to slow down a high-powered offense is important.
Kansas City saw that in the Super Bowl last year when Tampa Bay’s defense held them in check. The Chiefs upgraded their offensive line, the primary culprit on Super Bowl Sunday, because of that loss.
Now, Woods has the talent. The team added so much talent on his side of the ball that it is often hard to remember all of the new players. They also have a few returning after missing the 2020 season. Andrew Billings, Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams didn’t play last year and could play important roles this year.
On top of those three, John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Greg Newsome II and Richard LeCounte III were added to the secondary, Anthony Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tony Fields II were added at linebacker and Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, Malik Jackson, Tommy Togiai and Malik McDowell were added on the defensive line.
That is a lot of additions along with the three returning after missing 2020.
On the other side, only three defensive linemen, three linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties on the current 53-man roster played for the team in 2020.
Cleveland’s front office made sure that Woods had the talent needed to try to succeed against the best offenses in the NFL. While very few defenses can ever stop a very good offense, barring the offense losing their line like the Chiefs did last year, Woods has to build schemes now to use the added talent.
Going into 2021, the success of the Browns defense falls on Woods’ schemes and play calling. Can the second-year Cleveland defensive coordinator deploy his players to the best of their ability and make Kansas City’s job just hard enough to pull off a victory? Time will tell.