Cleveland Browns quick hits: 'Consistency' could unlock even better version of Myles Garrett
BEREA – Myles Garrett is already one of the NFL's best defensive players.
No, Garrett is already one of the NFL's best players, full stop.
Going into his sixth season, is it possible for an even better version of the Browns' All-Pro defensive end? Garrett's coaches certainly believe that's not expecting too much.
“I know that Myles is a great player; I think he can get better," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said recently. "Those are conversations that I have had with Myles and a bunch of our players ... never settling on where you are. Potential is just that, potential. I think he has an opportunity to get better."
Garrett is coming off, statistically, his best season. He set the Browns' single-season sack record with 16, and was credited with a career-best 49 total tackles, a forced fumble and even his first NFL touchdown.
All of that is great, not just for Garrett, but also the Browns. However, both the player and his coaches have eyes on much bigger prizes than a handful of statistics or honors.
That's where the margins come into play.
“For him, I think it is more about consistency, looking back at some of the plays last year that he left out there," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "For me, that is what I talk to Myles about is just really perfecting the defense, not missing any opportunities and playing as hard as you can possibly play on every snap because when Myles does that, he is unblockable in my opinion.”
That's where the work Garrett has put into the offseason comes into play. It's not just about the usual increase in strength or speed, but also working to maximize his health through the season's grind.
Garrett played a full slate of games for just the second time in his career a year ago. Interestingly enough, it came in the NFL's first 17-game regular season.
The only other season he played the full slate of games was in 2018.
"Really this year, got a team that's trying to make me better in all different ways as far as tidying up my movements, being more efficient with my steps, not wasting either of the two I just mentioned," Garrett said after Wednesday's voluntary offseason training workout practice. "Making sure my core's strong, I'm always using it, I'm always engaging and not letting it be loose so I can't have some of the injuries or the small ailments that plagued me later ... in the season. So just trying to make sure to prepare my body for the length of the season and make sure we can continue the run instead of kind of that falling off or tapering off towards the end because those aches and pains add up."
Matchup options exist with Grant Delpit, Greg Newsome II, Martin Emerson Jr.
The ever-evolving world of NFL offenses puts a strain on even the best defensive groups. That's why being able to mix and match within those groups keeps a defensive coordinator's hands untied and free to play around with a variety of options.
It's specifically why the Browns were so enamored with the skill sets of a number of their recent defensive acquisitions, especially in the draft. The allure of a Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was the fact he couldn't just play in the box at linebacker, but also utilize his speed to get out into coverage.
At the very back end of the defense, that's where it's even a bigger draw. It's one Woods, now in his third season, is hoping to use to really unlock the defense's full potential.
“I think the NFL is about creating matchups," Woods said. "I feel like for me, defensively, I always feel like I want to create the matchups, and I want to dictate how the game is going to be played.
"If there is a bigger tight end, you have Grant Delpit and you have Ronnie Harrison. We also have big corners if we want to match up so if we want to put Greg Newsome down there or (Martin) Emerson comes along. We can put different people on the field in different positions based on the matchups that we want to create.”
Even at the linebacker spot, that holds true. That's especially the case if Jacob Phillips, the former third-round draft pick out of LSU, can avoid the injury bug which has bitten him in his first two years.
Neither Phillips nor Anthony Walker Jr., who led the team in tackles a year ago with 113, are necessarily pigeon-holed into one specific spot.
"There is flexibility at that position," Woods said. "Anthony and Jacob can play Mike [middle], and they can also play the Will linebacker positions. We can do some things there, as well.”
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