'Go feast': Buttons Joe Woods pushed unleashed Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney & Co. to wreck Justin Fields
CLEVELAND — Nothing shaped the Browns' 26-6 belting of the Bears more than the 2017 draft.
Myles Garrett, the No. 1 pick in '17, needed to be part of a great pass rush. He was right on time with 4 1/2 of the Browns' nine sacks.
Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick, needed to have been Patrick Mahomes. Too late, baby.
The nine sacks were the most in a game since the Browns beat the 49ers in Mike Pettine's last win as head coach in 2015. Pettine was in the house Sunday as Chicago's "senior defensive assistant."
Big Mike might have noticed that Randy Starks, his starting right defensive end in '15, wasn't quite as good as Garrett.
"Myles is a great player," current head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "We're going to need him to be great. He was great today."
The Browns led 418-47 in total yards.
Some of that had to do with 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who patiently led the offense to those 418 yards. Some had to do with a defense that allowed 47 yards, including 1 net passing yard.
"The D-line had a great game. The coverage was working," said Garrett, whose sidekick Jadeveon Clowney delivered two sacks and five QB hits. "We knocked it out of the park."
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields was supposed to be a running threat but didn't have a chance.
"I think he tried to run," Garrett said. "We were pretty prepared for it."
Back in 2017, a former Eastern Illinois linebacker named Ryan Pace was in his third year as Chicago's general manager. The Bears were coming off a 3-13 season when Pace picked Trubisky over Mahomes.
Trubisky spent Sunday as a backup in Buffalo. Matt Nagy, who became the Bears head coach in 2018, was in Cleveland for Fields' first NFL start. Cleveland's defense allowed zero indications Fields, the No. 10 pick of the 2021 draft, can wind up like the No. 11 pick of the '17 draft, Mahomes.
Prior to kickoff, Nagy said on the Bears' radio network that Fields would rely on "a lot of big-time moments" from his his two-year run as Ohio State's QB.
"He's got that calmness and confidence to him," Nagy said. "He understands the ups and downs and adversity in our game. He knows how to stay even-keeled."
Fields had no time to think when Clowney led off the sack party.
Clowney popped the kind of inside moves suggesting "former No. 1 overall pick," splitting right tackle Germain Ifedi and right guard James Daniels. He was in Fields' grill faster than you can say "O-H."
Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods, much discussed after two games, pushed a couple buttons on Fields' third series. Clowney rested in favor of Takk McKinley. Garrett stayed in and got Fields' attention with a second-down charge. On the same play rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah blitzed up the middle and was there for a sack when Fields looked away from Garrett.
Garrett got a coverage sack on third-and-long when Fields followed orders to take no chances. The score was 3-3. The Browns weren't moving.
The landscape changed after Mayfield directed one of the more timely drives of his career, leading the Browns to a touchdown late in the second quarter. It was 10-3 at halftime against a Bears offense stuck on 41 yards.
Woods pushed another button. He opened the second half resting Garrett. Clowney lined up at Garrett's usual spot, while McKinley played Clowney's normal position.
McKinley, a former first-round pick, beat left tackle Jason Peters. Fields looked to step ahead and away from McKinley, but defensive tackle Malik Jackson had inside pressure. Sack. Punt.
Chicago's defense was the best Mayfield has seen so far.
GM Pace gushed about it during pregame, saying, "You look at a forced fumble, three interceptions, five sacks, nine quarterback hurries, eight pass breakups ... that's a lot of production on defense. It's fun to watch it all come together."
Mayfield never quite got into a fun groove. The Browns were in a tense 13-3 game midway through the third quarter when Robert Quinn and Khyiris Taylor did a little dance near Mayfield, who had just been sacked for the third time. Mayfield got sacked twice at Kansas City and twice against Houston.
Woods' defense needed to keep giving Fields trouble, at a time of the game when Texans rookie Davis Mills gave the Browns trouble a week earlier.
Fields got interesting.
Coordinator Woods stayed on the buttons. Garrett moved from right end to tackle on a third-and-10. Fields delivered an 18-yard completion.
Later, Fields scrambled. Owusu-Koromah smashed him before he could slide.
After an offensive holding penalty, Garrett and Clowney flipped sides just before a third-and-19 snap. Fields scrambled into a heave and hope pass interference call. Safety John Johnson III was flagged on a touch-foul ruling that enraged the stadium.
A field goal made it 13-6. Hard running by Kareem Hunt led to a 20-6 lead. The defense teed off on Fields.
Near the ends Woods all but asked the Dawg Pound to join the rush.
"It was a game where he was sending us," Garrett said.
Six men rushed. Garrett won his one-on-one for another sack.
"I'm glad to be see the guys stay hungry and go feast," Garrett said. "But there's still more to come."
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