Myles Garrett won’t be back this year unless he wins his appeal, but the Dawg Pound needs to show support to the Cleveland Browns defensive star
The Dawg Pound should support Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, and welcome the star player back when the time comes. Up to this point he has represented his team and his adopted town with class and grace. He is one of the greatest athletes we have seen in this generation.
This isn’t to say that Garrett should be considered blameless, or that his actions last Thursday night are in any way acceptable.
In America, if someone screws up badly enough, they get punished by the legal system. In some cases, they serve time in an institution. But when the debt to society is paid, they are welcomed back into society. The action follows their record forever, but we’re not supposed to hate lawbreakers forever.
Hence it does not seem reasonable to call for Garrett to be thrown off the team (i.e., given to the Steelers for free) or banned from the NFL. They have a player’s agreement that covers these situations. Punishment is mandated, but not the death penalty or ex-communication.
Truthfully I used to worry that Myles Garrett might be too nice to be a successful NFL lineman. I met him once at a charity function with Gregg Williams, who at the time was the defensive coordinator for the Browns.
While acknowledging that first impressions are not always accurate, he comes across as a pleasant, friendly kid. He is soft-spoken and a little shy with strangers.
It’s hard to imagine that this young kid with the easy smile who enjoys playing with puppies is evil beyond redemption. That does not compute.
Earlier this year, Garrett ended the season of Trevor Siemian of the Jets with a late roughing the passer penalty. That was actually the second of two roughing the passer calls in that game.
To this observer, it did not seem that the sack was overly violent but definitely came after the whistle. He was also fined for unnecessary roughness versus Delanie Walker of the Titans in the opener.
In 2018, however, Garrett had only one call of roughing the passer, plus one call for blocking above the waist. He had zero fines and zero ejections.
In 2017 he also had only one roughing the passer call and zero fines and zero ejections. Thus prior to this year, there were three violence-related penalties in 27 career games (0.11 penalties per game), and this year in nine games he had four penalties, or 0.44 penalties per game, or four times the frequency of his first two years.
This is shown graphically below:
Likewise, the 2019 fines are unprecedented in his career. Garrett is not at this point a habitual offender, but the flurry of problems in 2019 suggests that something’s wrong.
As a team, the Browns had four roughing the passer calls in 2018 (0.25 per game). This year they have 8 (0.89 per game), which is second in the NFL prior to the Week 11-weekend results.
To make a long story short, the numbers say that something is up. The lack of discipline that outside observers have criticized is real, and one of the ways it reveals itself is in the outrageous increase in penalties called on the Browns and especially violence-related penalties.
That’s not to say that the coaching staff has to be fired, but irrespective of Garrett’s situation, it does say that there’s a real problem that really does need to be fixed.
Garrett will have to decide whether he wants to become a Hall of Fame defensive end or the next Vontaze Burfict. For what it is worth, the guess here is that, although the fight with Rudolph will never be forgotten, it will not define his career.
There’s at least one example of an equally appalling incident involving a Hall of Fame player. In baseball, pitcher Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants got into it with John Roseboro, hitting him in the head several times with a baseball bat and drawing blood. That incident will always follow Marichal, but he continued to have a Hall of Fame career.
However, violent penalties may define the 2019 Cleveland Browns. It’s not just an isolated incident with one player.
Garrett’s career prospects are still bright, and this incident, as bad as it was, will not stop his career. If the Browns should decide to trade him, there will 31 other teams willing to make an offer, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There is no way to predict the future, and if Garrett has more problems down the road, critics will be able to say “I told you so.” But that has not happened yet. For now, Garrett will serve out whatever punishment the league arrives at, and he will come back to the team.
He should be supported and encouraged by the team as well as the fans to first of all learn from his mistakes and secondly, to come back stronger than ever.