New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is considering keeping Steve Wilks in his role as defensive coordinator while also considering former Broncos DC Joe Woods. The Browns are down to Wilks and Woods for the job, Jim Trotter of NFL.com tweets.
This news comes a day after Wade Phillips and ex-Vikings DC George Edwards were believed to be in the mix. But Stefanski looks to have since narrowed the field. He and Woods worked together for eight years in Minnesota, with Woods coaching the Vikings’ defensive backs from 2006-13 — Stefanski’s first eight years with the franchise.
Wilks has spent one season as Browns DC, coming over after a one-and-done tenure as Cardinals head coach. Woods, who replaced Phillips in Denver as Broncos DC in 2017, is currently serving as the 49ers’ pass-game coordinator and secondary coach.
Freddie Kitchens brought Wilks over from Arizona. The Browns improved from 30th to 22nd defensively from Gregg Williams but dropped from 18th to 23rd in defensive DVOA. Wilks, 50, also oversaw the Panthers’ defense in 2017, being promoted after a five-year run as Carolina’s secondary coach.
Woods received the same promotion in Denver, with the Broncos opting to let Phillips walk in 2017 to elevate Woods. While Woods’ two Broncos defenses were solid, the 49ers’ rise from 23rd to second in pass-defense DVOA has obviously been key to the NFC No. 1 seed’s success. The 49ers’ Richard Sherman-led secondary has become a much better unit compared to last season, when Sherman did not play at a Pro Bowl level. Woods also oversaw the Broncos’ dominant No-Fly Zone secondary that helped the team to a championship in 2015, working under Phillips. Woods, 49, has a chance to collect a second Super Bowl ring and may ride that momentum into another DC job.