Browns Galvanized by League Office
In the immediate aftermath of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns players had reactions that ran the gamut from stunned to horrified in light of what Myles Garrett had done. Diminishing the victory on the field and losing the best player on the team for the balance of the year, it had the potential to not only derail the season but fracture a locker room. That is until the league stepped in and mishandled Garrett's punishment.
The league office expedited the process, seemingly rushing to a desired conclusion for the sake of PR, potentially burying evidence that might have at least helped to explain what incited the situation. It wouldn't have excused Garrett's actions, certainly, but it would've further complicated things. Garrett was also thrown under the bus during the appeal process in what was supposed to be a confidential hearing when details were leaked, widening a concerning gap between the league office and players.
While Browns players aren't ignoring Garrett's actions, the league's decisions have rallied them to his defense, galvanizing them against a common foe; injustice. Jarvis Landry vocalized the thoughts many had Friday, saying, "It’s like they wanted to put it to bed early and make an example. The process wasn’t handled appropriately. They expedited the process based on the video footage and based on the reaction of the world.”
From the general manager to the head coach to the locker room, the common theme has been a belief in Garrett's word. They at the very least are showing a united front, but they genuinely seem to believe him. The fact the NFL claims they have no audio from the game in a league where they have a robust archive of audio from every other game, especially prime time games, is at least curious, only making it easier to believe Garrett. What he's alleging would also make sense given the sheer rage displayed in the moment.
Garrett's fate decided for the rest of this year anyway, the news of the past few days may focus his teammates on proving a point to the Miami Dolphins this week and the Pittsburgh Steelers in their rematch next week. That anger may be just the fuel they need to get past the disappointment of losing Garrett, using Sunday and the scoreboard to make a point. They may use both to send a message to anyone questions them as well as upcoming opponents.
The Browns are going to be shorthanded on defense, missing three starting defensive linemen among other question marks, but the offense is going to be as close to full strength as they have been this season. The Dolphins are struggling and hemorrhaging players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Browns seem primed to have a breakout game on offense and if they can take control, don't expect them to show any mercy.