Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) forces a fumble from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) as linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) goes for the ball during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Garrett ready to live up to lofty expectations of himself, teammates

Coming off dominant Week 1 effort, Garrett ready to take aim at Drew Brees

September 14, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Myles Garrett finally got to sack Ben Roethlisberger – twice last Sunday.

So, he can finally check that off his list.

1 down, many more goals to go.

“You gotta have that kind of expectations every week,” Garrett said Thursday. “If I hope for four or five sacks and I only get two or three, that’s still a good week for me so I gotta go out there with those high hopes, those high expectations and try to achieve them.”

In the season opener, a 21-21 tie against Pittsburgh, Garrett did what so few players in Cleveland have been able to do since 1999 – affect the outcome of a game with a dominating defensive performance.

In just 12 games, Garrett has shown that he is not just a game changer for the Browns. He’s a franchise changer.

“He wants to be one of the best to ever play,” head coach Hue Jackson said. 

Garrett, taken first overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, is driven to live up to the selection and his teammates aren’t shy about reminding him of that. Receiver Jarvis Landry might not play defense, but he reminds Garrett of where the bar is set daily.

“Every time I see him, I tell him Defensive Player of the Year. I always want him to have that mindset because he's definitely that type of caliber player,” Landry said. “He's a gamechanger, literally, and he should be recognized as such, as some of these guys in the league are recognized.”

Expectations do not scare Garrett. Not much does, well, other than spiders.  But the spotlight his teammates put on him is one he’s more than willing to embrace.

“It shows that I’m a playmaker and that they believe in me,” Garrett said.

“It’s nice that they believe in me like that, and hopefully I can live up to my own expectations and while I’m on the way [to] live up to theirs.”

For Garrett, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a tackle for loss and a pass break-up is just another routine day at the office. A habit he expects to repeat on a weekly basis.

“You want to be the best defensive player, not only on the field, but in the league. And I feel like I can be that,” Garrett said.  

Garrett’s relentless hustle and strength woke the Browns from a 21-7 coma in the fourth quarter, igniting the rally in the final 7:32 of the game to force overtime and ultimately end in a tie.

“It was a turning point,” linebacker Schobert said. “Football is a game of momentum and I think they had the momentum at that point and Myles was able to change it with one play and we were able to take the steps from there to get it back to a tie.”

Schobert recovered a pair of fumbles in the opener – one of them caused by Garrett with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter, which he returned 17 yards to the 1 before Carlos Hyde scored to make it a 1 touchdown game.

“That's what he should do,” Schobert said. “He's the No. 1 overall draft pick, that's what everybody's seen from him in college and when he was at least partially healthy last year, he has that ability and we see it every day in practice and training camp, the stuff he's able to do, and just to see him do it on a regular season game and torment other team's tackles the way he does our own is a good feeling.”

Garrett’s impact isn’t just limited to chasing the quarterback. The pressure he provides helps the secondary too, especially rookie cornerback Denzel Ward, who is already a beneficiary having come away with not 1, but 2 interceptions in his pro debut.

“He affects the game. It affects the game, makes my job easier,” Ward said. “There are times where my technique might not be as good. He gets there in time where it makes me look good.”

In 11 games as a rookie last season Garrett, who was slowed by an ankle injury that cause him to miss the first 4 games of the season, racked up 7 sacks.

Now Garrett is healthy, which for him is the first time in a long time.

“I don’t think there’s been a time I’ve been 100 percent other than last week since junior year at A&M before Arkansas,” Garrett said.

That also means very bad news for opposing quarterbacks as the difference in Garrett this year is noticeable.

“Oh, yeah, and hopefully you all will [notice it] too,” Garrett said.

Garrett made it a goal this season to be on the field as much as possible, so he can be a force when called upon. Last week it required that he play every snap against the Steelers, all 84 of them.

“When I said as much as possible, I wasn’t thinking [84] out of [84], but I had fun,” Garrett said. “I like being out there on every down, being able to rush the passer and them not feeling like they can get away from me, ‘Oh, he’s on the bench right now or he’s trying to get a breather.’ I’m out there affecting the game in every quarter on every drive so that’s a plus for us.”

Garrett, who prefers to let his play do the talking for himself, also holds his teammates to the same standard, because he knows he can’t do it alone.

“I want them to meet me at the passer,” Garrett said.

This week a new challenge awaits Garrett – Drew Brees, and he plans to be ready to take aim at the Saints 11-time Pro Bowl and future Hall of Fame quarterback.

“Going against two Hall of Famers back to back is ... it puts a smile on my face because I’ve grown up watching these guys but also getting an opportunity to hopefully introduce myself to him as well on the field,” Garrett said.

So, what is Garrett’s game plan this week?

“You gotta make sure he can’t step up,” Garrett said. “He has a tendency to set back pretty deep and step up into the pocket and make those throws when he’s going deep or sit in the pocket and make those throws quick at different angles.

“He’s a shorter guy so you have to try to bat the ball down, but he’s been doing it well for many years.”