The New Orleans Saints are expected to name Joe Woods their new defensive coordinator, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Monday.
Woods, who was fired as the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator after the season, will reunite with Saints head coach Dennis Allen. Woods was a defensive backs coach with the Raiders in 2014 when Allen was the team’s head coach.
The Saints had co-defensive coordinators last season with Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard sharing the duties. Nielsen was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as their defensive coordinator on Jan. 27 while Richard and the team parted ways on Feb. 1, a source confirmed to ESPN last week.
Allen, however, called the defensive plays last season, his first as the Saints’ head coach.
Woods, 52, had been Cleveland’s defensive coordinator under coach Kevin Stefanski since 2020. In Woods’ first season, the Browns advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2002, then won their first playoff game in 26 years.
But slow starts hampered the Browns’ defense the past two seasons. At one point in mid-October this season, Cleveland ranked 31st in defensive efficiency. A porous run defense especially hurt the Browns. Cleveland finished next-to-last in the league in defensive total rush expected points added (minus-23.11).
Cleveland’s defense, notably covering the pass, improved significantly during the second half of the season, as the Browns finished 20th in defensive efficiency. But it wasn’t enough to save Woods’ job or keep Cleveland in the playoff hunt.
Woods also was a defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos for two seasons (2017-18).
ESPN’s Jake Trotter contributed to this report.