“Unfortunately, we didn’t perform up to our standards enough this season, and we all share in that responsibility.”
Woods was under fire all season and he sensed his dismissal last week, telling reporters, “I hope I get to talk to you guys again,” as he left his weekly news conference.
With Woods in charge, Cleveland’s defense, though talented on paper, didn’t produce.
The Browns were especially vulnerable to the run, getting gashed for big plays on the ground nearly every week as teams turned to a proven formula.
Woods never ducked responsibility or made excuses despite a rash of injuries, most notably at middle linebacker.
Starters Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki all sustained season-ending injuries, forcing Woods to play inexperienced linebackers and general manager Andrew Berry to bring in outside help.
The Browns’ pass defense collapsed late in a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets, who rallied from 13 points down in the final two minutes.
The problem resurfaced in Sunday’s 28-14 loss at Pittsburgh as Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Picket threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open George Pickens with Cleveland’s defensive backs confused on coverage.
Woods also had to deal with star defensive end Myles Garrett playing hurt for much of the season with a sprained shoulder suffered in a September car crash. Woods’ final week included defensive end Jadeveon Clowney being sent home after he criticized the organization and coaching staff.
Clowney was inactive for the finale and didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh.
Cleveland’s defense improved some during the season’s second half, but there wasn’t enough growth to save Woods.