After the Browns’ Halloween Night victory over the Bengals, ESPN commentators couldn’t help but salivate over Myles Garrett’s performance. The former number-one pick had 1.5 sacks, four QB hits, a tackle for loss and a tipped pass that led to an interception. Admittedly, it was one of Garrett’s best showings of his career.
However, right on cue, Garrett put on his invisibility cloak in Week 10 at Miami, finishing with one tackle, one tackle assist and zero sacks. The Dolphins, known for their dynamic passing game, racked up nearly 200 yards on the ground. The Browns defense was an embarrassment, as usual for the 2022 season in the third year under Joe Woods’ defense.
The opinion of some very forgiving Browns fans is that none of this is Garrett’s fault. Sorry, that isn’t the case. It’s understandable that even the best players have bad games, but this is too often an occurrence for Garrett that it’s impossible to shrug off as “just one game.” This happens all-too-regularly when he disappears for games on end, especially in crucial moments of the game.
The Browns were 3-5 coming off a bye week and their best win of the season. It was critical for them to get a key win on the road to save their season. One tackle, zero sacks and 200 yards given up on the ground doesn’t cut it.
Make all the excuses you want about double and triple teams and missed holding calls. Every great player in this league is held and triple-teamed. Yet they still manage to make an impact on the game.
More importantly, they manage to step up and make the plays necessary to help their team WIN GAMES, even if they’re struggling to fill their individual stat sheet. Somehow, the world of Pro Football Focus has blinded Browns fans from what the end-all, be-all statistic in this game is: wins.
Garrett, taken first overall and making $125 million, should be considered a leader on the Browns. But he continually fails to elevate his team to consistent winning. It’s remarkable considering what other defensive players around the league have accomplished in shorter periods of time.
Micah Parsons is a second-year linebacker in Dallas. In his rookie year, the Cowboys went 12-5 and won the NFC East division. So far in 2022 they’ve gone 6-3 and look poised to compete for the postseason again. Parsons, as a middle linebacker, had 13 sacks and three forced fumbles in his first season. He had the same amount of tipped passes as Garrett did despite Garrett playing on the line.
TJ Watt has gone to the playoffs three times since being in the league, while also beating Garrett in every single defensive category.
The bottom line is that these guys contribute to their respective teams winning games, whereas Garrett’s team takes one step forward and two steps back. After the 7-8-1 campaign, the Browns got worse in 2019 in a 6-10 effort. After making the playoffs in a season of empty stadiums in 2020, the defense again regressed in an 8-9 finish. This year, the defense is second-worst in the NFL and the Browns are headed for an even worse record.
Your best players make plays that don’t show up in the box score. Observe in this video from the Browns loss to the LA Chargers. Garrett appears content to let Austin Ekeler run right past him. Garrett gives up once Ekeler gets ahead of him:
Unbelievable. No effort from out best player pic.twitter.com/nbjf4ynwdt
— Steve Little (@stevolittle423) October 9, 2022
Another example of this laziness came in Miami last Sunday. Go watch the Browns-Dolphins highlight video and go to 3:28. On a Dolphins 1st and 15 from the Browns 41-yard line, tie game near the start of the second quarter, Tua Tagovailoa takes the snap and hands the ball to Raheem Mostert on a misdirection.
Number 95 takes three steps forward, stares right into the backfield, and watches Mostert run right around him. He stops and keeps his back turned through the rest of the play until he’s out of the frame. No turning around, no coming from behind to save every yard possible. Not even an attempt.
And don’t tell me there’s no point in running behind the play. The Browns’ Tommy Togiai and Taven Bryan, numbers 93 and 99 respectively, are both chasing after the play despite Mostert’s run. Garrett actually blocks both of them from doing so by standing there.
Parsons and Watt make these plays. They lead by example and refuse to give up in the middle of plays. They may not be stats that show up in their sheets, but they help your team win games. An effort like this out of your highest-paid defender is embarrassing and inexcusable.
It not only hurts the Browns on the field, but it also damages morale and sets an awful example for players under Garrett. Why should Tommy Togiai and Taven Bryan run full-speed after the ball if the 125 million-dollar man refuses to do so? They may still be chasing down ball carriers now, but enough experience playing with an underachiever making hundreds of millions more than you may change that.
Where is the accountability? Where is the motor, the relentlessness, or the desire? Yet again, these leadership qualities don’t show up in the stat sheet but have a big impact on the game and the team itself. You won’t find that in a PFF breakdown.
It is these little things that make the difference between winning and losing. Sadly, many fans seem preoccupied with excusing failure with individual rankings instead of demanding the best players do more to win games.
Not me. I’ve had enough of Myles Garrett. Trade him for a high draft pick and take a real leader on defense.