It took Myles Garrett a millisecond to name the quarterback he looked forward to sacking first after the Browns picked him No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft: Ben Roethlisberger.
The fact that Big Ben was atop Garrett’s hit list won him immediate adulation from Browns fans.
Ironically, Roethlisberger will be the first quarterback Garrett will face Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium to kick off the 2017 season and the Browns’ rookie defensive end isn’t backing down.
“I stand by it,” Garrett said Wednesday. “Shouldn’t be scared to take anybody down. Everybody on the offensive line, we’re gonna come at him as a collective group. It’s not just one player getting after 5 guys, it’s the whole defense against their offense. I’m not going to be alone in this.”
The talk on draft night from Garrett didn’t really ruffle any feathers in Pittsburgh. They shrugged it off the way Roethlisberger shakes off defenders. After all, Cleveland remains a bye week for the Steelers, who are are 31-6 including an AFC Wild Card playoff game since 1999 against the Browns.
“I didn’t know the rivalry was as big as it is,” Garrett admitted, “but seeing the big plays that have happened on each side just shows that that is something to look forward to and live up to.”
The Browns drafted Garrett in the hopes he’ll help change that and transform one of the worst defenses in the league into one of the best.
If the preseason is any indication, Garrett is just the guy to do it. But he and his defensive teammates have their work cut out for them.
Since Cleveland passed on Roethlisberger in the 2004 NFL Draft, the Findlay, Ohio native has tormented the Browns and is 20-2 against them as a starter throwing for 5,490 yards with 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 23 games. His numbers are the most among NFL quarterbacks in NFL history against the Browns.
“He’s no small fellow,” Garrett said of the 6-5, 240-pound Roethlisberger. “It’s gonna be pretty tough. Gotta make sure you wrap up and make sure to try and get the ball out. There’s times where he’s a little bit loose with it so when you try to get him down just try and rake the ball while you’re doing it.”
While Roethlisberger has proven over the years to be one of the most elusive and difficult quarterbacks to bring down, Garrett has a plan when he faces him for the first time.
“Just make sure you don’t hit him up high,” Garrett said. “You see a lot of guys who make that mistake and he just shrugs them off and he’ll find a little escape hatch and extend the play. So, just make sure you hit him low, try and stay above the knees but get him in his lower body and make sure you wrap up and gator roll.”