Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett came into the 2019 season with the stated goal of earning the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Three games into the season and Garrett is off to a good start as he is second in the NFL with six sacks and a forced fumble. Along the way, however, Garrett has also had more than his share of penalties and has been fined $52,639 by the league - once for a personal foul and twice for late hits on a quarterback.
Despite that, Garrett says he will keep playing the game his way and pay the price later, according to ohio.com:
“I know QBs have the most protection in the league, but at the same time you’ve got to defend us as well,” Garrett said. “You can’t expect us to try to do every single thing we can to get out the way of them and potentially risk hurting ourselves just trying to keep him from ever touching the ground harder than laying a pillow on a bed. But I’m not going to change my style of play and hopefully I don’t get any more fines for it.
“I might get an unnecessary roughness every three or four games — I won’t make it a habit, it’s not something I want to do — but if that’s what happens and I’m still making big plays consistently, then I guess that’s my toll.”
Garrett may not be planning to change his overall approach to the game, but he did say he has to take things differently on Sunday against Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson because of Jackson’s elusiveness, according to NFL.com:
“You are trying to go toward his midsection. You are not trying to hit up high. You have to stop those legs. Those are what are getting everybody to miss. It is not like he is wiggling. Those cuts are very sharp and precise. He is not really chopping or doing anything like that, but if you are able to keep him from doing that one cut, make sure you are funneling him back to your defenders, you can keep him from tearing you up.
”(Jackson’s mobility) is not a surprise, but it still catches people off guard because of how slick he is from getting away from potential tacklers. He sees them coming, and he will do a back juke or hit a move to the side, and then all of the sudden, they are on the ground thinking they already had him. He is as elusive as they come, but you just have to make sure you have population to the ball and see what you hit.”
Jackson may be shifty but he is not untouchable as he has been sacked six times this season. And Garrett has had a sack in four consecutive games dating back to last season, a streak that includes a sack of Jackson in the only meeting between the two teams.
If Garrett can keep that streak going on Sunday, and do it without drawing the ire of the officials, then the Browns could be well on their way to a key early-season victory.