Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is one of the more thoughtful players on the roster and has gotten increasingly comfortable in speaking his mind openly to the media. Too often, people love players being honest until they actually get it, but Garrett had a number of interesting answers to questions in his post game press conference after the loss to the Buffalo Bills. So let's discuss them.
"Gotta stay locked in. Our biggest weakness at this point, just not having that attention to detail, not focusing and not finishing. Those are the things that keep on getting us. Those penalties. The special teams mistakes that we had and just not being where we're supposed to be, fitting up the run on defense. We can't expect the offense to put up 30 every game. We have to be there and do our job and gotta be complementary."
While this ultimately will be a reflection coaching, specifically defensive coordinator Joe Woods and special teams coach Mike Priefer, Garrett is prodding his teammates. Combined with a devastating quote from safety Grant Delpit, it paints a picture of the Browns being young to the point of being detrimental on the defensive side of the ball.
The organization has failed, at least for this season, to have stocked the locker room with an adequate supply of true professionals. Much of that is due to the acquisition of Deshaun Watson at quarterback, which had them cut some corners in an effort to save resources for when he's fully available, when the team feels they are more prepared to contend.. It's been a costly one for this season.
The NFL is going to stand for Not for long for players who cannot figure out what it means to be a professional. Some players are outing themselves in the form of behavior that is causing the team to reprimand them like rookie defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey. After the season, players and coaches will be replaced as is deemed necessary.
"It's gotta be more of an emphasis in practice (referring to forcing turnovers). It's been a lack of importance when we go out there and practice. It's gotta more important to us if we wanna force those takeaways in the games. And we have goals that set in practice and we're not reaching them. I think we have to be better and I think that's the first start. Once we start forcing those takeaways like we have been in our last couple years, then we'll see some of the results start falling in our favor, because as good as- as good as the defense- we can play, it can only get better and we can only start covering up these mistakes even more if we start taking the ball away before they even get rollin'."
Far and away the most interesting quote from Garrett, this is philosophical. Garrett thinks the Browns should be using more of practice time to focus on takeaways, even mentioning past years being better on that in terms of causing turnovers. For his part, Garrett is exceptional at causing turnovers. Sack fumbles are a major part of his game.
Garrett does make a good point. The Browns should be spending more time focusing on takeaways.
However, the problem the Browns defense has run into is they have a finite amount of practice time in a given week and they spend so much time on basic stuff, because they suffered a brain drain from players on the defense. That has included communication early in the season, then tackling and even this past week Woods was asked about all the time players have to digest the game plan. Because they aren't, which was reinforced this week.
If the coaches could just put the Browns out there for three and four hours to get it all worked out, they would, but league rules don't allow, it so they have to pick their battles on what to emphasize. The rest is on the players to do individually.
Garrett knows this. Part of the problem is Garrett is likely frustrated, understandably, with how much the Browns are being held back by players he's already acknowledged aren't doing enough. It just seems as though Garrett's idea to simply focus on creating turnovers in an effort to cover up for those other failures, many of which he already mentioned.
If the Browns put all of their energy into creating turnovers and it works, they likely win the game. However, if they don't generate takeaways and instead are gashed by opposing offenses, critics will look at coaching and call for guys to lose their jobs, which may or may not be a given at this point.
The other part is Garrett specifically refers to causing fumbles. D'Anthony Bell had a tremendous play in the preseason where he just wound up and punched the ball out. It was a great highlight and helped to ensure he made the final roster. Keep in mind, he did that in lieu of making the tackle. So unless Garrett is really interested in securing tackles followed by teammates flying in to strip the ball out, there's a risk-reward calculation to be made.
The Browns came close to knocking a fumble out of tight end Dawson Knox's hands in the game, but he was down before the ball came out.
When Garrett was asked to clarify, he seemed to once again put more of the onus on the players even if the perceived criticism is inevitable.
"I'm saying we have goals in practice and don't achieve those goals all the time as far as getting the strips and punchouts and things like that. And I think we need to do better with that."
The last quote seems pretty simple, but maybe there's something deeper to it.
"We gotta make sure that we don't waste the talent that we have in its prime right now. We gotta do our best with it. There's seven more games that we can use the talent that we have and make the most out of it. We still have a lot of opportunities left to keep on fighting and put ourselves in position to keep fighting and putting ourselves in position to go the playoffs. It's not as much in our hands as we want it to be, but it's definitely not out of the conversation yet."
First and foremost, Garrett is focused on competing right now. While it may not mean much to fans or media, he is trying to send a message to his teammates. They need to keep playing and trying to win, that they cannot simply look ahead to the offseason. He still wants the focus to be on winning, stacking victories and making a run.
Maybe there's some frustration in there that the Browns are what they are this year because Deshaun Watson is suspended for 11 games and the team mostly held tight otherwise knowing the season was already compromised. Who could blame him given how finite player careers are in the NFL?
Undoubtedly, Garrett is referring to himself, but that likely extends to players like Nick Chubb and Joel Bitonio among others. Garrett wants every season and every game to matter. He should.
There are people suggesting this was a low key way to signal a demand for a trade. Garrett is talking about winning games and competing for the postseason, so the notion that he's laying groundwork to demand a trade is inflammatory and baseless.