imo you can let the dough rest longer, use 1/4 the yeast, and skip the VWG. do some stretch and fold (think of folding the dough on the lines of a tic tac toe grid, rest 20-30min, repeat 2-3 times. ball, proof or freeze. continue as normal. i think you'll get the crust and crumb you are looking for.
and lastly, try scaling down that recipe 20% to 400g flour and you should get a thinner, not so 'brick' crust.