I tried. I really tried. But when you're looking for the matchup that quite possibly is going to make the difference between winning and losing, then you go to the one that is probably going to make that difference.
And let's face it, nobody wears the villain's hat in Pittsburgh quite like Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett. And outside of T.J. Watt, nobody is as explosive on the field of play, creates more havoc and big plays and can terrorize opponent offensive coordinators like Garrett can. Thus, he again is the Classic Jurassic Meat-Eater Matchup this week.
Standing 6-foot-4, and 272-pounds, this defensive end, or defensive tackle, or maybe standup off -line middle linebacker wears a variety of hats. Because of that, he might be found lining up over anyone of the Steelers offensive linemen.
He most often lines up over the opponent's left tackle, which in this case, would be the Steelers' Dan Moore. Moore already has had some epic battles with Garrett, and more than holds his own. However, at various times, you might see Garrett travel around, and I would be hard-pressed to believe that the Steelers' top draft pick, Broderick Jones, isn't going to get his chin tested by the high-octane Garrett at right tackle.
A natural and fluid athlete, Garrett is also strong and explosive, capable of wrecking plays from the inside-out or the outside-in. Lining up in the Jim Schwartz high-intensity, high-velocity Wide 9 DE position, he can play the run or rush the passer with equal ease. Garrett prefers to put two hands on the ground, like a track sprinter in the starting blocks. And at the snap, he's off and running. Sometimes he looks like he was shot out of a cannon. Because he has good flexibility, he can present a small trapping surface for a pulling offensive lineman looking to T-Bone him on a run play. But he also has enough power to stuff an offensive tackle at the point of attack and can use that flexibility to bend the arc as he runs it on a pass rush.
Frequently (depending on the opponent) on the move, he can be found in a number of positions, and the nightmare presented to Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is locating Garrett's whereabouts while calling a play that will minimize the destructive capabilities of Garrett.
Garrett has a great first step, and he obviously comes to the pass rush party with a plan in mind. Part of his exceptionalism resides in the fact that while he's of long limb, he also can move with a low pad level. And he can move that low pad level with speed and quickness.
Garrett comes into the game with 11 quarterback pelts nailed to his personal "sack wall." He's also got 48 tackles to go with 4 forced fumbles. Add in an additional 20 quarterback hits, and 9 tackles for loss in 9 games played, and you begin to understand his value to the Browns defense. He is to the Browns defense what Watt is to that of the Steelers.
Garrett often will use an inside arm swipe to knock down an opponent's arm, a swim move here and there and, of course, the uppercut. He has a full complement of pass-rushing techniques. Garrett has excellent change of direction, and can "ghost" an opponent with a combo of head fakes and arm-over maneuver.
Knowing where he's lining up, adjusting accordingly and minimizing his splash potential will be a big part of the game plan. Also working in Garrett's favor will be the noise level at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Because of his ability to get out of the blocks and a defensive player's natural advantage to react to sight, the advantage rests with the Browns defense. The Steelers will most likely be operating on a silent count for at least part of the day (if not all day)
For the Steelers to be successful, they have to get hands on Garrett. Clear communication between the offensive linemen and knowing where your help is coming from are two big factors they need to be spot on come Sunday.