Browns star Myles Garrett says no 'rift' between him and Joe Woods, knows defense's unity is being tested
BEREA — All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett isn't backtracking from the critical comments he made after the Browns fell 45-7 to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
But Garrett made it clear Friday he doesn't have any beef with defensive coordinator Joe Woods, either.
“I don’t think there was ever like a rift between us. There was never a problem,” Garrett said after Friday's practice. “I was frustrated because I felt like we could have done more, but it’s tough to see.
“[Woods has] a tough job, just like I do, and I want to make plays. And it was tough for him because they were scheming me and JD [defensive end Jadeveon Clowney], and he’s doing his best to put us in position to make plays. So I don’t think there’s a problem at all between us.”
During Garrett's postgame news conference at Gillette Stadium, he lamented a lack of in-game adjustments killing the Browns against Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones and the rest of the New England offense.
“We never had a chance, just because we didn't make any adjustments on the sideline or when we had time to,” Garrett said Sunday.
Everyone involved knows making defensive adjustments is a vital part of Woods' job.
Woods said Thursday he has a great relationship with Garrett and “everything's good” between them.
Garrett and Woods have been talking this week, but they didn't broach the subject of the headlines the star defender generated in his news conference following the blowout loss.
“Nah, I mean, I know what was meant, he knew what I meant and he knows that none of us did well enough — coaches or players,” Garrett said. “So he wants to see us make plays, and I’m sure everybody else does too in Cleveland. So I don’t think he took it the wrong way. We just all want it to stay in house, and that’s understandable.”
Garrett said keeping criticism “in house” was the message Browns coach Kevin Stefanski delivered to him. Stefanski revealed Monday he had talked to Garrett about his comments.
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In Garrett's eyes, other defenders were upset like he was.
“I think everybody was frustrated just because we expect more out of ourselves,” he said. “Everybody wants to make plays, and I don’t think anybody was satisfied with what we put on the field, what we displayed and so I think this week we’ll be able to show what we can really do.”
The Browns (5-5) have a margin for error Garrett described as “slim — none” while they attempt to keep their playoff hopes flickering. The light will go out if they lose to the Detroit Lions (0-8-1) at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Guys had a great week of preparation, and it was good to see,” Garrett said. “It was good to see everybody’s spirits still up and still ready to attack the season because it’s still right there for us.”
Myles Garrett knows Cleveland Browns must stop run vs. Detroit Lions
Garrett admitted he doesn't know much about Tim Boyle, the quarterback the Lions are expected to start Sunday after listing Jared Goff as doubtful to play because of an oblique injury.
“I have to do my research,” Garrett said. “I wasn’t sure if Goff was going to play, so now I'll get to it. I've still got a lot of time for film study.
“They’re not going to try and let him put the game in his hands. They’ll try and run the ball. They had success with that last week, so we’ve got to force their hand, where if they can’t run the ball well, he’s got to make plays, and then see what we can do.”
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Boyle has never started a regular-season NFL game. He has completed 3-of-4 career passes for 15 yards in 11 appearances with the Green Bay Packers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018 out of Eastern Kentucky University.
“Boyle was a guy we evaluated coming out of college,” Stefanski said. “He was at Green Bay for a couple years. I feel like we know these guys, and based on who’s out there, we’ll adjust accordingly.”
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This past weekend, the Lions tied the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-16 at Heinz Field. The Browns lost to the AFC North rival Steelers 15-10 on Oct. 31 in Cleveland. The Lions rushed 39 times for 229 yards (5.9 average) and two touchdowns against the Steelers (5-3-1). The Browns allowed 184 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries (5.4 average) against the Patriots (7-4).
The forecast is calling for cold, rainy weather Sunday on the lakefront.
“No team is going to come out here and just lay down,” Garrett said. “They’re going to come out here and attack us. They want to run the ball. They want to do just like the Pats did. They’ll run until they can’t, until we stop them.
“We have to be sturdy, and we have to be stout up front and we have to make plays. We have to knock them back and make them throw the ball. We have to put them in situations where the score’s on our side. We have to take the ball away, score on defense and eventually open us up as rushers, and then we can really turn the game in our favor.”
Myles Garrett is one sack away from tying official Cleveland Browns record
The Patriots kept Garrett from opening up as a pass rusher for most of the game. He had one sack Sunday, increasing his NFL-leading total to 13 this season, but conceded the Patriots probably doled out the most cut blocks he has encountered in a single game since his days at Texas A&M University.
“They weren’t trying to give me a running start at the quarterback really, and when they did, they had other things schemed for me,” Garrett said. “I mean, it’s [coach Bill] Belichick and [offensive coordinator Josh] McDaniels. They had a good plan for us.”
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Now Garrett needs one sack to tie the official single-season franchise record of 14, which Reggie Camp set in 1984.
“That would be awesome, but at the end of the day, if the numbers don’t come and the wins do, I’ll be just as happy,” Garrett said. “I want my guys to thrive. I want them to play well and just to succeed themselves. I know we’ll all do this together. There’s no other way to do it.”
The defense's unity is being tested. Garrett is the main defensive leader in the locker room, so he sees value in being on the same page with Woods. If they're not in lockstep, it will show.
“I think it’s important for all of us to see eye to eye — players and coaches,” Garrett said. “You’ve got to have chemistry all across the board, and when something’s off, then that’s when you see holes in our game.
“I think we got some things corrected out here in what we want and what we want to achieve and where we want guys to line up on the field. So I think we’ll be good.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lions at Browns
Time: 1 p.m. Sunday'