No matter how much film I watched this past week, or how much I sought to find a fresh, new matchup, it always comes back to Myles Garrett whenever the Steelers tango with the Browns. And so this edition of the "Classic Jurassic Meat-Eater Matchup" again leads with one of the fiercest DE/QB hunters in the league.
At this point, it's a Meat-Eater Matchup between Garrett and the entire Steelers offensive line, because there's no hard-and-fast rules as to where you'll see this highly talented, 6-foot-4, 272-pound T-Rex line up. In the last four games against the Steelers, Garrett has accumulated 3 sacks and 14 pressures.
Watching Garrett and his defensive mates have a go with the Cincinnati Bengals last week shows an expansion of the role of Garrett. Already fluent in flipping sides and maniacally rushing the passer, Garrett was unleashed in new ways by the Browns' new defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. He even had a solo matchup over center, complete with a nod to "Dancing With the Stars," as Garrett stood over center with a rhythmic side–to-side sway while slowly approaching the line of scrimmage. Garrett was timing the snap, almost like an NBA player working towards a crossover dribble, to attack down the paint.
In an obvious effort to isolate Garrett with the center, create a pre-snap distraction that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow would have to circumnavigate, as well as giving him a straight shot at the quarterback, Garrett timed the snap, all the while edging closer and closer to the line of scrimmage.
At the snap, Garrett used a fake to get the edge of the center's shoulder, blowing up the A gap while having the other four offensive linemen each facing their own rusher in essentially what we used to call "5 Bigs." That means it's mano-a-mano across the board, everybody has their own man, and each man is on an island.
Although Garrett didn't sack Burrow, others did in the ensuing melee after the snap. He did this four times against the Bengals and it resulted in a sack and three incomplete passes. And to boot, Garrett occasionally drops into coverage.
Now, imagine Kenny Pickett pre-snap, in the shotgun, looking at a very formidable pass rusher staring him down, directly in his line of sight. At the very least, it's got to be distracting. I would say it's something the Steelers/Pickett had better be ready for.
Garrett has played a total of 85 games, and in those games he has collected 75 QB pelts to nail on the wall. Add in 78 tackles for loss, 146 quarterback hits and 366 total pressures, and you see how Garrett can be a one-man wrecking crew.
Garrett will play in a wide 9 (outside the OT) four-point sprinter stance, and tear up the field with a good inside swipe and uppercut. Surprisingly strong, his speed and ability to offer a low punch surface gives him a distinct advantage in up-the-field rushes.
But make no mistake about it, Garrett's greatest asset is his athleticism. Minimizing the chaos and negative yardage Garrett is capable of producing is going to be job one for the Steelers offense whether he is lined up over left tackle Dan Moore Jr., right tackle Chuks Okorafor or even center Mason Cole.