CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry spoke out Monday afternoon after the decision to fire defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

The decision came less than 24 hours after the Browns’ disappointing season ended with a 28-14 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Not an easy decision. I have tons of respect for Joe the person, Joe the coach. He’s a great, great man. He works extremely hard, he treats people the right way. I just felt like it was in the best interest of the football team to go in that direction,” Stefanski said during a press conference. “But he will land on his feet because he’s a good football coach.”

The Browns’ defense struggled all season, so it only made sense for the team to make a change after very little improvement, especially in the run game. The Browns were one of the worst teams in the league in stopping the run.

“We were just too inconsistent,” Berry said of the season as a whole. “A lot of good people in place — players, coaches, staff — we’re energized to make the necessary changes and modifications so that we’re playing good football at this point in the year.”

Woods’ tenure with the Browns lasted for three seasons. He was hired by Stefanski in the winter of 2020.

The Browns made the playoffs that season, but after that, the team and defense progressively got worse.

So, where do the Browns go from here? They already have permission to start interviewing candidates.

So far, that list includes Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, Steelers senior assistant Brian Flores and Titans senior assistant Jim Schwartz.

“We are going to look very hard at all of these candidates and schematically, they’ll look at our roster, they’ll look at our tape and we’ll start talking ball and what we could do differently. Those are all conversations to make sure that our personnel matches up with the vision of what we want,” Stefanski said. “We feel good about some of the candidates we’ve identified and we’re open-minded.”

The players were told about the firing when they arrived at the facility Monday morning, on a day when they cleaned out their lockers and took part in exit interviews.

FOX 8’s John Sabol spoke with some players about this season’s defense.

“I would say that at certain moments of the game, we didn’t need to trick ourselves, trying to trick the other team. Maybe we could just get up, line our cleats to the ground and make plays because that’s when we’re at our best,” John Johnson III said. “We need a calmness out there.”

“Had a lot of games where we had a lot of great plays, but those two mistakes can cost you a game, so it’s really just trying to find a way to stay consistent throughout a whole entire game,” said Greg Newsome II.

When asked if there are plans to make any other staff changes, Stefanski said, “Today was really about the players, so I met with our players all day. I will meet with our coaches this week and we’ll have conversations with everybody.”

The Browns ended the season with a 7-10 record.

“I’m really proud of our guys for how they fought until the end,” Stefanski said. “Doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize that there are areas to improve, but that’s really where our focus remains. Areas where we can improve.”