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Browns fire defensive coordinator Joe Woods after disappointing season

Joe Woods
Posted at 7:14 AM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 19:06:52-05

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said the defensive coordinator "didn't perform up to our standards." This has been corrected.

The Cleveland Browns ended their season 7-10 and at the bottom of the AFC North after a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers to end the season. As the Browns closed their year with a loss, they also closed the chapter on defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

Woods was relieved of his defensive coordinator duties Monday morning, league sources confirmed. The Browns also released the following statement from head coach Kevin Stefanski on Twitter Monday morning saying "we didn't perform up to our standards":

The Browns hired Woods as the defensive coordinator in 2020 in February 2020.

Since the first week of the season, the Browns defense has faced struggles. From faltering communication to blown coverages, missed assignments to untimely injuries, the defense has been riddled with issues. While things have improved in the second half of the year, a slow start on that side of the ball was what the Browns dealt with last year as well. The repetitive issues had seen many fans calling for Woods' job.

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"I hope I have the opportunity to come back. I know things haven’t gone the way we would like them to go this year, but I feel like the first season going to the playoffs and winning a game for the first time in 26 years or something like that; the next year, we didn’t win a lot of games and that is what it is all about, but we did improve defensively to No. 5," Woods said in his last press conference of the season. "And again, through the end of the season, I think we are playing better. It is the guys out there getting experience playing together. I feel like the guys we have on our team because we have a young team they are all coming back next year and we will have a full offseason."

Unfortunately, with two lackluster seasons from the defense under him, the Browns felt change was needed and relieved him of his duties.

"I let Joe Woods go last night. Not an easy decision. I have a ton of respect for Joe the person and Joe the coach. He's a great, great man. He works extremely hard. He treats people the right way. I just felt like it was the best in the best interest of our football team to go in that direction. He will land on his feet because he is a good football coach," Stefanski said.

General manager Andrew Berry said that there wasn't the right "mix"overall for the defense to perform at its highest level and that's a focus for them moving forward.

"I think honestly when we are sitting here at this time of the year and we look at the unit’s performance, we didn’t necessarily have the right mix in all areas and you really look at everything. You really have to. That is not just talent or scheme. It is some of those other factors, as well," Berry said.

The Browns will now start their offseason searching for a new defensive coordinator to join the staff with the hope of turning the defensive around for a strong 2023.

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Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.