The Cleveland Browns are off to a shocking start to the 2022 season. And as anyone who has watched knows, the shock is not a positive one for fans in Northeast Ohio. In fact, things have gone so rough that fans on social media are noting head coach Kevin Stefanski may be on the hot seat.
Is that fair? Well, all NFL fans know that the head coach ultimately takes the blame for a losing program. Yet before any firing happens, changes are usually made in order to save a job. For the Browns, there is one major scapegoat in place who may lose his job soon, and it’s not Stefanski.
The Browns may need to fire defensive coordinator Joe Woods
A simple Twitter search for “Joe Woods” brings with it plenty of hate and criticism from Cleveland fans. Sunday is no different, as the Atlanta Falcons managed to quite literally run all over the Browns defense. Marcus Mariota only completed seven passes, yet he still led his team to a 23-20 victory.
The issue was the Falcons collectively running for over 200 yards when Woods and everyone in the building knew it was coming. That is unacceptable, especially for a team like the Browns with such high expectations.
There is a fair argument to be made that the offense should have scored more than 20 points. They left multiple scores on the field with questionable decision-making, and Nick Chubb only carried the ball 19 times. The lack of offense is where fans latch on to Stefanski as the man who needs to go.
But the problems stretch back beyond Sunday. To be specific, Woods put his job in danger in Week 2 when his defense engineered an epic collapse against the New York Jets. His men up front could not generate pressure, and those in the secondary forgot how to communicate as the Jets scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game.
Yes, the players themselves need to step up and do their jobs. But a lack of communication at the NFL level? That is inexcusable, and a coach needs to answer for that.
So will Woods get fired? So far, the Browns may want to avoid a sense of panic by firing a coach so early in the season. And even if he does go, a member of his current staff would slide in and try to maintain some sense of continuity.
If they do go this route, that is the first step toward Stefanski losing his job. Ownership will look for a scapegoat, other than themselves, and Woods is the first man up. But after him, Stefanski is the one running the offense. So if that unit isn’t up to par, not much would change by firing any assistants.
One thing he has in his favor is that ownership is going to evaluate the team based on how it runs with Deshaun Watson under center. If he returns and the same problems keep coming up on either side of the ball, a new coach is surely coming in 2023.