clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Joe Woods wants to sprinkle a little sugar on the Broncos defense

New, comments

Denver’s new defensive coordinator has no plans to change the whole recipe, just make a few changes.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Panic seemed to set in.

It wasn’t so much over the news that Joe Woods was the Denver Broncos new defensive coordinator. It was more over the news of who he replaced to get that job. Wade Phillips is our football-loving goofball grandpa. The wry, southern humor. The drippin’ with Aqib Talib. “And we got to see Lady Gaga.” More than that, he was the leader of perhaps the best defense in NFL history en route to a Super Bowl victory.

When it became official Phillips wouldn’t return to the Broncos, it was akin to a family member moving across the country. It was the end of an era, and it happened in a flash. Fans had no idea how to respond to it. Some still don’t. Yes, it’s part of the business of the NFL but it doesn’t lessen the sting.

The pressure is always there in the NFL, but the focus is on the man who now leads the best defense in the NFL while trying to replace a beloved icon.

“It’s definitely awesome,” Woods told the media earlier this week. “It’s something that has been a long time coming for me. I’m definitely excited about the opportunity. All of the players know me. They know what I’m about. I have a great defensive staff; a bunch of coaches I’ve been with. So everything has been going great for me.”

If Denver sees any drop off on defense, the chorus from the cheap seats will ring down. The questions and the second guessing will flood social media and the comment section faster than Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash. The benefit is you have a man who knows the expectations and wants to conquer them. Woods knows if the Broncos don’t win a Super Bowl, it’s a failure. It doesn’t get any more pressure packed than that.

“I want our guys to be smart and tough, and play fast,” Woods said. “The biggest thing when you play defense - offense it doesn’t matter - it’s about what you do. It’s not about what the other team does. You have to do what you do schematically better than what they do. That’s really the challenge to get. I talk to the guys and I tell them, ‘We need to win with 11.’ We need 11 guys doing their job, executing, playing physical and playing fast.”

Woods has waited his entire coaching career for this moment. He’s put in the work for 25 years, 13 of those as a defensive backs coach in the NFL. The challenge is making the leap to defensive coordinator. Now instead of leading a unit, he’s leading the whole defense. The adjustment and transition is far from easy, and there are no guarantees success will follow.

What aids Woods in his new role is he’s been with the team for two years. He was hired in Feb. 2015 as the defensive backs coach, and with it came the No Fly Zone. Over his two years in Denver the secondary became the best in the NFL. As Phillips did with the defense as a whole, Woods took his players and got their best. The expectation from Vance Joesph is Woods does that again.

“It was a little bit of an adjustment because I’m on the field,” Wood said. “I’m used to being down with the DBs, and I want to gravitate over there. But at the same time, I want to make sure that our new secondary coaches create a relationship with our secondary. And I don’t want to be in the background and they’re like, ‘Hey Joe, what’s - remember we did it this way? Remember we did it that way?’ I’m trying to stay away from those guys. I’m finding my own way around the field. I’m bouncing around, getting from place to place. It’s been a little different, but so far I’m adjusting.”

When you watch him work with the players on the field, it’s clear they have immense respect for Woods. When you listen to the players who have worked with him on the field and in the meeting room the last two years, they know Woods makes them better. As a player that’s all you can ask for. What also helps is the defensive staff is pretty much intact from the last two years. That allows for the continuity to remain for the players and coaches. In other words, the foundation is still in place it’s the alterations that need completion.

“He has a great mind,” Von Miller told the media this week. “He knows how to relate to guys, especially the secondary. That’s the strength of our defense. He brings a calm voice. (Outside Linebackers) coach ‘Pug’ (Fred Pagac), that’s my coach. Me and Coach Pug have had a special relationship from Day 1. It’s just a special environment here, especially on defense. We’ll come out here and work hard. Whatever happens, we’ll be OK with.”

But my big deal is, I don’t want to come in and change the fingerprints or the foundation of our defense. All I said is I want to sprinkle a little sugar on it. It’s something that will give us a little change up, make offenses work at the line of scrimmage. That’s all we’re doing.

Added T.J. Ward: “He just wants to get back to playing relentlessly. Wherever the ball is, everybody has to get to it regardless of where you are on the field. At the same time, you’re going to be smart and disciplined. You don’t want to be out of control. You want to be patient but ferocious at the same time. He brings that. He’s not a rah-rah guy but when he does get like that you definitely feel it. You get goosebumps and feel it from the inside and know it comes from his soul. That’s the type of players we have and that’s the type of defense we’re going to have. That’s what he expects.”

Time will tell if the Broncos made the right move to go with Woods over the legend. But the hope is that initial panic has given way to excitement.

“The foundation of our defense is going to stay the same,” Woods said. “Our first two years, we played a high level defense. We did a good job. There’s a few things that we definitely need to improve on. But my big deal is, I don’t want to come in and change the fingerprints or the foundation of our defense. All I said is I want to sprinkle a little sugar on it. It’s something that will give us a little change up, make offenses work at the line of scrimmage. That’s all we’re doing.”

Broncos Tracks

Sacco Sez: Brotherly impact
The Broncos have a storied history of brothers on their rosters, and there's one brotherly Broncos connection that goes beyond football.

Cancer survivor Sean Swarner dons Broncos cap at top of the world
One Broncos fan did the impossible and capped it off with a cap.

Bill Barnwell 2017 NFL offseason report card for free agency, draft - AFC West, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City, Chiefs, Oakland Raiders
The Chiefs got their QB -- at a cost. The Broncos and Chargers renovated their offensive lines. The Raiders added a formerly retired superstar. Here's how each AFC West team fared in free agency and the draft.

Broncos hope opponents find Jake a -- wait for it! -- pain in Butt | 9news.com
ENGLEWOOD—Sure, there was a time when it was pain in the Butt for Jake to always be the Butt of jokes.

Broncos' Demaryius Thomas embraces challenge to be 'dominant' again - Denver7 TheDenverChannel.com
Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas is healthy, happy and ready to be meet coach Vance Joseph's challenge to dominate.

AFC West Tracks

Chargers GM Tom Telesco on transition to L.A.: 'You embrace it'
Despite the unusual circumstances, the Chargers' GM expects his team to conduct business as usual.

Chargers' Rivers focuses on competition to avoid boredom of early-season workouts - LA Times
Rookies and veterans get together for second full-time camp with the Chargers

Which Chargers Desperately Need to Bounce Back in 2017? - Bolts From The Blue
Who needs to deliver a strong 2017 season?

Kansas City Chiefs Andy Reid once wanted to be a sportswriter | The Kansas City Star
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid entertained the idea of being a sportswriter when he was in college at Brigham Young, even writing a column for the Provo Daily Herald.

Chiefs awfully thin at some most important positions
Kansas City hopes to improve its sack totals, but judging by the lineup it is fielding at offseason practice, the Chiefs aren't off to a great start.

Chiefs’ Andy Reid on what Patrick Mahomes is working on at OTAs - Arrowhead Pride
We’ll be tracking the development of our shiny new quarterback throughout this offseason. Yes, this is Alex Smith’s team and we aren’t debating that (at least I’m not).

Middle linebacker remains a question mark for Oakland Raiders
Cory James played in all 17 games for the Raiders as a rookie last season and split first-team reps with Tyrell Adams during OTA drills this week.

Raiders' Mario Edwards Jr. could be defense's missing link
The Raiders were contact hitters in their off-season pursuit of defensive help.

Donald Penn won't get "bad taste" out of his mouth until season starts - Silver And Black Pride
Donald Penn wants to hit someone to wipe away the memories of 2016.

NFL Tracks

On this date: George Halas retires an an NFL head coach. - Stats & Info- ESPN
It's been 49 years since George Halas roamed the sidelines, but his legacy lives on.

Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety | Tampa Bay Times
If someone's house were engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?Of course not.

Shortening the NFL Overtime Is a Band-Aid Solution – The Ringer
The NFL is shortening its OT period from 15 minutes to 10, but that tweak to the rules won’t solve anything

Zimmer hopes to return to coaching in early June - NFL.com
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be back in Minnesota next weekend, and hopes to start coaching soon after.

Brandon Jacobs: Jim Harbaugh 'knew nothing' about football while coaching 49ers | NFL | Sporting News
Jim Harbaugh is the second highest-paid coach in college football, but Brandon Jacobs feels like he's not worth the money.

NFL player works part-time on Wall Street and saves 90% of his income
Detroit Lions DE Brandon Copeland took an off-season job at Weiss Multi Strategy Advisers.

NFL alum Izell Reese brings high school football combine to Chicago - Chicago Tribune
A free high school football combine stops at Lane Tech High School no Saturday

Julius Thomas of Miami Dolphins 'better person' after Jacksonville Jaguars woes
Julius Thomas admitted Wednesday that the Jaguars weren't a fit for him, but he feels his struggles with the team have made him a better person and prepared him to succeed with the Dolphins.

Rob Gronkowski 'looks like Gronk' in return from injury - NFL.com
Three words: Gronk. Is. Back. Rob Gronkowski impressed reporters and coaches in his return from a season-ending back injury this week, notably during Thursday's organized team activities.

6 NFL quarterbacks with the best chance to become elite in 2017 | FOX Sports
Is Derek Carr ready to take his game to the next level? What about Dak Prescott?

Ranking the NFL's 15 most awkward QB situations, from Brady to Glennon - CBSSports.com
There's nothing more uncomfortable than working with the guy hired to replace you

Best NFL draft picks of the century: Top selections from Florida - NFL.com
We continue our school-by-school look at the best NFL draft picks since 2000 with Florida. See where Percy Harvin, one of the most electrifying players of his generation, lands on the Gators' top-5 list.

Jets reportedly to hire female DBs preseason intern - NFL.com
The New York Jets are set to hire their first female coach. Gang Green reportedly intends to hire Collette Smith to work with the defensive backs this summer as a preseason intern.