Like the Cleveland Browns’ offense in 2020, the defense hasn’t always been lights-out, and it hasn’t always been pretty. But it has been effective enough to get the Browns to 8-3, and to prevent a losing season for the first time in…well, in a long time.
All things considered, I believe that defensive coordinator Joe Woods has done a good job to this point in the year. He’s dealt with a pandemic-shortened offseason, players entering the Covid protocols, and slew of injuries, and he’s had the team ready to play through all of it.
Perhaps more than offensive coaches, it is hard for defensive coaches to hide their weakest players. Defensive schemes tend to be less about designing new looks and more about simply having your team ready to respond to the plethora of things an offense can throw at you (blitz packages are one notable exception). The offense simply gets to dictate what is going to happen from play to play. Defenders have to be able to line up and play, and they have to play against a variety of offensive threats.
Woods has had this Browns team mostly ready to play this year, and he has avoided schematic busts and miscommunications by playing a relatively simple scheme. That scheme is based around Cover 3, which I broke down below: