For a team that is 2-2, it’s fair to say the Cleveland Browns have seen their share of ups and downs this season.
The Browns won their first opener for the first time in 17 years.
And then lost to a sputtering Joe Flacco-led New York Jets.
The Browns beat the Steelers for the third time in three years.
And then lost to a less than stellar Falcons team that many Browns fans considered an easy win.
The wins can be attributed to good QB play (aside from two key interceptions) by Jacoby Brissett and an elite running game led by Nick Chubb, who sits just four yards shy of leading the league in rushing.
To explain the losses, however, fans continually blame one factor: Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods.
At what point is enough actually enough with Joe Woods and the blown coverage? #Browns
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) October 2, 2022
It could be that Woods has become an easy scapegoat for fans to point to and that the problems the team is facing stem much deeper.
But an interesting statistic has come to the attention of fans and analysts that might make it more reasonable to blame woods and his defensive scheme.
The Browns give up too much in the 4th quarter
According to a recent tweet from Jake Trotter, the Browns are allowing nearly 8 yards per play in 4th quarters this season.
#Browns defense is giving up 7.83 yards per play in the fourth quarter this season. That's the most of any defense. (No other defense in the NFL is giving up more than 6.61).
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 4, 2022
That is an entire yard more than any other team.
And it helps explain how wins over the Jets and Falcons slipped through the Browns’ fingers.
They become complacent in critical situations, letting teams make the biggest plays when it matters most.
Many fans and analysts believe Joe Woods is to blame.
Why Joe Woods is at fault
One constant issue for Woods and his defense is how opposing receivers have constantly gotten open.
Joe Woods defense ladies and gentlemen… Stefanski needs to make his seat be on fire, because his will be soon if not. pic.twitter.com/oRudVOv3CZ
— Mike (@bigschecky) October 2, 2022
And it’s not something you need a statistic to see, as it’s happened in every single game the team has played this year.
There is also an issue with the run-stopping game.
Opposing running backs have constantly found holes in the defense.
And it’s not even just big-name running backs.
2nd and 3rd string RBs have had their way with the Browns too.
With bad communication in the secondary and a front that might as well just roll over at this rate, Woods is edging closer and closer to sitting in the hot seat.
If he’s not already.
In defense of Joe Woods
While it is certain Woods isn’t perfect and is deserving of some blame, a few things need to be said:
- He led a top-5 defense last year
- DT Taven Bryan, DE Jadaveon Clowny and DE Myles Garrett have been out the front 7
- The Browns held the Falcons to their lowest score of the season
Even with factors working against Woods, he is still finding some level of success– even if fans don’t want to acknowledge that fact.
I know y’all gone be mad but this isn’t the fire Joe Woods game, defense is out 3 of their best players in the front 7 , offense had to step up this week to win , had opportunities to, didn’t execute. gotta play better
— Quincy Carrier (@Kwen_C) October 2, 2022
With how low his defense kept the Falcons score last Sunday (without some key players), there is a fair argument to say the offensive couldn’t score enough is to blame for the loss.
If Kevin Stefanski had decided to kick more field goals instead of going for it, this article could be about something very different and positive.
Yes, Falcons WRs were getting wide open during the final minutes of the game.
But the Browns’ offense could have found some of their own open WR.
Or just could have run the damn ball.