Cleveland Browns: Will Joe Woods keep 4-3 defense in 2020?

Cleveland Browns (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are expected to officially announce the hiring of 49ers assistant Joe Woods after the Super Bowl. So, will use use a 4-3, or 3-4 base?

An interesting tidbit to come out of Super Bowl week involving the Cleveland Browns, was that 49ers defensive secondary coach Joe Woods “all but confirmed” he would become Kevin Stefanski’s defensive coordinator in 2020.

The nugget came from TheLandonDemand’s Tony Grossi, who also gave the Dawg Pound insight on what Woods might run when he takes over.

Woods called plays as a defensive coordinator for two seasons under Vance Joesph in a 3-4 scheme. However, under Saleh, the San Francisco has operated a 4-3 base.

"“Woods said he could run either, but would tailor his system to his players. Thus, he will keep the 4-3 base alignment in Cleveland,” Grossi wrote."

Here’s what Woods said about matching a scheme with the players he inherits.

"“I think it’s too hard to acquire the personnel you need to have success [in a particular system], So wherever I go, I would do it just based on the personnel I have, whatever their personnel is best suited for.”"

The Browns have tried a 3-4 defensive a few times in the mostly forgettable 20 years they’ve been playing since 1999, and the results are usually a disaster.

Coordinators Romeo Crennel came to town with Super Bowl rings. Eric Mangini was known as Bill Belichick’s “Man-Genius.” Both tried to implement the 3-4 in Cleveland and failed. Most notably, Cleveland could never get the linebackers needed to have success in the scheme.

Kamerion Wimbley dropping into coverage anyone? Or what about Jabaal Sheard. Paul Kruger was one of the biggest free agents this franchise had ever attracted, and even he failed to recapture his days as a Raven when wearing an orange helmet.

Fans probably want to see Cleveland stay in a 4-3 base because of Myles Garrett–and rightfully so. His best attribute is getting to the quarterback, and you don’t want to waste him dropping back into coverage.

That said, the Browns have used him on the inside. Could Garrett be a down defensive lineman in a 3-4? Based off Woods’ words, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but something to think about.

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Looking back at the linebackers, the Browns barely have enough to play a 4-3. Switching to a 3-4, unless huge additions are made in free agency and the draft, might be a disaster.