The Cleveland Browns Are Betting On Myles Garrett
I probably would not bet against him
A horrible, galling loss to the Raiders really laid bare the inadequacy of the Cleveland Browns defense. They were entirely unable to stop a Raiders offense that is nothing like a juggernaut, but ended the game with an unholy 37:43 in time of possession. That’s over sixty percent of the game. The Raiders had one more drive than the Browns and ten more first downs. The defense has now forced one punt in the last two games.
There are very clear and obvious flaws in this defense. They probably have one legitimately good DB in Denzel Ward. They have no good linebackers. The defensive line is thin. Andrew Sendejo.
I am also turning a critical eye to Joe Woods. He hasn’t really had a good run of it lately. Woods relentlessly blitzing Joe Burrow despite him being absolutely unruffled by it was an ugly watch. You could have told me Gregg Williams was calling the defense in that game. I would have only slightly protested.
Make no mistake though, this Browns D is total garbage. It could be that speeding up the opposition quarterback’s process is all this group has.The very few areas where they have real quality, they have no depth. Outside of Garrett and Denzel Ward, there really isn’t much there. The Grant Delpit injury was clearly a bigger blow than we knew at the time. The bitter truth is that Achilles injuries are one of the hardest to come back from, but hopefully we see him contribute next year.
Whether the Browns were either hoping or expecting the linebacking corps to take a step forward this year is unclear. What is clear is that they haven’t. They pretty much aren’t a factor on Sundays. Probably the most impactful play they’ve made is BJ Goodson picking off Joe Burrow in the end zone. He then entirely forgot the rules of football and ran it out instead of just taking the touchback. He did not get far as I’m sure you remember.
Despite having a number of players that don’t approach starter-quality, the Browns stood pat at the trade deadline. There wasn’t really much action and I’m sure that had an effect on their ability to make deals, but some deals were made. Nobody was expecting the Browns to go all-in, and they shouldn’t want them to. This team is nowhere near ready to contend, but functional football players are always nice,
This, however, is a group that knows the value of draft picks, and will not spend them on rentals. This is a draft-focused Front Office. They know the currency of sustained success is draft picks. It was frustrating to accept, but not at all surprising that they decided to stand pat at the deadline.
There is however one thing going right on the Browns defense, and it’s going really really right. That thing is Myles Garrett.
When Garrett was drafted, he was seen as a generational talent, impossible for the Browns to pass up with the top pick. That opinion has been dented somewhat by the fact Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went in that draft, and that a fairly solid stream of elite pass-rushers has entered the league in the last few years: Aaron Donald, the Bosa brothers, Chase Young. Pass-rushers will always be easier to find than quarterbacks.
This year, though, Garrett has been that next-level difference-maker. After a sudden and shocking end to his season last year (Note: He said that shit), Garrett has been everything we were told he was going to be. This is what a Hall-of-Famer looks like. Enjoy it.
Through eight games he has nine sacks and four forced fumbles, all strip sacks. Batting the ball out of the opposing QB’s hands is fast becoming a trademark. He has been triple-teamed at times. He is changing games. He hurt his knee very early in the game on Sunday and only played 33 snaps, comfortably his lowest total of the season. It showed.
He has been a wrecker for the Browns, and has surely created more turnovers than the four forced fumbles he’s directly responsible for. They are eleventh in interceptions, despite very few of the defensive backs having hands, and seventh in turnover differential, despite the abject condition of the defensive roster
The thing about a defense is that you can get away with it being a wasteland if it creates a lot of turnovers. Look at Greggggg’s career. With Garrett healthy and in the lineup, the Browns have been creating enough turnovers to survive. Not much more beyond survive, but they are 5–3.
The Browns are not a contender and I don’t think anybody thinks they are. Making the playoffs this year is the aim though, and an important one. This is a very young team, and the experience of the playoffs, even just one game, is a big step in the growth of this team. Playoff football is different. They need to get used to playing in it if they hope to have any success.
It looks like the Browns are going to get a fillip on offense coming out of the bye. Nick Chubb, Wyatt Teller, and Austin Hooper are likely to play on Sunday. This is a team that can put up points, we’ve seen them do it. The challenge for the Browns is ensuring the offensive talent outpaces the defensive limitations. The Browns think Myles Garrett is enough to enable this. With the level he’s playing at, he might just be.