Without Myles Garrett opposite of him, Olivier Vernon stepped up to the plate and had his best game in a Browns uniform. The NFL announced that Vernon is the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for this past week.
Vernon had three sacks, a safety, five tackles and a pass defended against the Philadelphia Eagles in bad weather. In just this one game Vernon more than doubled his sack total, which sits at five on the season now. There was not expected to be much of a pass rush without Garrett if last year was any hint while he served his suspension. Vernon proved to be that wrong helping the team total five sacks against the Eagles.
It was just a few months ago that many wanted the Browns to bring in Jadeveon Clowney, who ultimately signed with the Titans. Cleveland dodged a bullet there as Vernon out performed Clowney’s season thus far in just one game. Clowney is yet to produce a sack this season and has less tackles for a loss. Both players have struggled with some health, but Vernon has been the much better player on the 2020 season. Cleveland made the right move by keeping him around.
This kind of game could be huge for Vernon going forward, he will again be without Garrett opposite of him - so Cleveland will rely on his pass rush. If the Jaguars do anything right, it may be throwing some double teams Vernon’s way after his game last week.
Cleveland likely loses Vernon this year and goes younger at the defensive end position through the draft, barring any short term deal to bring him back. For the time being, Vernon is playing well and making himself some money anywhere he will be playing next year. This is Vernon’s first player of the week award since 2013, a big deal for him.