Three Cleveland Browns players who could derail the season if injured
The Cleveland Browns didn’t have great luck with health in 2020, whether that was injury or COVID-19 issues.
But most of their issues did not dramatically alter the season, and the team made it all the way to the divisional round of the playoffs.
In order to play deeper into the 2022 calendar year, Cleveland will need to stay healthy. Here are three specific players who would have significant impacts on the season’s outlook if they miss time.
3. Myles Garrett
If Aaron Donald is the best defender in football (and he most definitely is, quite possibly the best individual player ever), Garrett is probably second. His stats are great; over 53 career games, Garrett has totaled 45 sacks, 44 quarterback hits, 216 pressures, and 42 tackles for loss. His impact on the game goes far beyond the stat sheet, as he has a certain gravity to his play, one that requires multiple blockers on each snap and keeps opposing coaches up at night.
The Cleveland defense survived without him for four games in 2020, and he played many others hampered by nagging injuries. After the first five weeks of the season, Garrett was on a legendary pace, but started getting banged up, and as the year drew to a close, Olivier Vernon outplayed him. Garrett dealt with the lingering aftereffects of COVID-19, which severely hampered his conditioning.
The Browns need Garrett to be at full strength this year, and their EDGE room is designed to allow for that. His snap counts will likely be reduced, especially earlier in games and when the score gets out of hand. When he’s needed, he’ll be healthy and fresh, and the same goes for Jadeveon Clowney. The younger guys like Takk McKinley, and at least two of Porter Gustin, Curtis Weaver, and Malik McDowell, should be able to provide quality rotational play, which is something that defensive coordinator Joe Woods values highly.
If Garrett were to go down, that would force Clowney into the primary EDGE role, and he lacks the bend, flexibility, and durability to succeed at that. He can be an excellent No. 2, but Garrett has to be the alpha, and he has to have the best (and healthiest) season of his career if the team wishes to win a Super Bowl.