Entering the 2020 season, the defensive position group, really the position with the most questions on the entire roster is linebacker. Joe Woods, the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator answered questions about that group, what he's hoping to do this season.
Woods was asked simply, what his vision at the position was and where players fit.
“That is a good question. Right now, we are giving them some primary positions to learn, but coach (linebackers coach) Coach (Jason) Tarver and (senior defensive assistant) Coach (Ben) Bloom are really trying to cross-train most of the linebackers. This is going to be a situation where once we get on the field and we start running our defense, it is going to be how well they fit in a specific position. Are they capable of making plays, based on the scheme? It is going to be something we are going to have to feel out once we get back for training camp. I will tell you what, all of those guys in the meetings really have been doing a good job so I know mentally they can handle it. It is just physically, what are they capable of doing?”
He was asked about Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson, the two linebackers that were drafted by the team last year, what he sees in them and where they can improve.
“They are both athletic. They have cover skills. They have range. They play with a nasty demeanor. I remember last year, we were looking at Mack and (San Francisco LB) Dre Greenlaw. They are both to me similar types of players so I have a reference, just in terms of what I saw Dre do last year. Both of those guys just look like what we want in a linebacker: athletic, play physical and run to the ball. I think they are a natural fit. They are just both young guys who need to keep gaining experience.”
Woods was also asked about his emphasis of this defense and simply how many linebackers he intends to use. Last year, the Browns utilized a 4-2-5 base with two on the field.
“I have come from both systems. I would like to transition into a dime system, but it is going to be something that is going to take time to get into, just because of getting their reps. Eventually, I would like to have a nickel package, where we have two linebackers on the field, but also, just to create better matchups and be a little bit more diverse in our scheme, I would like to get to a dime package, where we are putting an extra safety on the field.”
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