Trotter: Browns Narrowed Down Defensive Coordinator Targets to Two

Pete Smith

According to Jim Trotter, the Cleveland Browns and their new head coach Kevin Stefanski have narrowed their defensive coordinator options down to two. The first would be simply retaining Steve Wilks, the team's defensive coordinator last year while the other other is Joe Woods, a defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. There was thought to be a possibility Stefanski would hire former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips or George Edwards, recently let go from the Minnesota Vikings, where Stefanski just coached. Woods is younger than the venerable Phillips, 72, while having worked for him when they both spent time with the Denver Broncos.

Wilks isn't the most popular choice by virtue of how the defense fell apart last year. Between injuries and suspensions, a promising defense got worse as the season wore on, going from proven stars to rookies and street free agents. Between running zone coverage with what most would argue are man corners and issues with attention to detail by younger players, blame would land on Wilks, despite what were largely effective game plans.

If the Browns were to retain Wilks, the hope is the results would be far better given the talent they have on the team and another year in his system. Multiple assistants that were part of his staff have already gone to other teams, so if he did take the job, he would have to replace some of them.

Joe Woods is more in line with the type of defenses Wade Phillips would run. Woods and Stefanski know each other as both started coaching for the Vikings in 2006. Woods was a defensive backs there until 2013 while Stefanski remained until now.

With the exception of Phillips, every candidate being mentioned is an African American, which is something Stefanski was asked about in his opening press conference. He was glad to get the question and be able to address it, saying he would put together a diverse staff.