Myles Garrett deserved to be left off the Defensive Player of the Year list

Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns’ very own Myles Garrett should not be taken seriously as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

The Cleveland Browns fandom will not get to celebrate this year’s Defensive Player of the Year winner, unless they also root for a second team, because Myles Garrett did not make the cut. Despite being one of the top sack-getters in the league, the Browns Pro Bowler was unable to muster enough support from the voters to warrant a high spot on the final listings.

Instead, Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones, San Francisco 49ers’ Nick Bosa, and Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker Micha Parsons were the top three in this year’s ranking. While Garrett (16) did have more sacks than Jones (15.5) and Parsons (13.5), all three men were considered drastically better against the run game than Garrett.

Garrett had a PFF grade of 68.6. A very solid score, for a backup defensive end. Parsons had a 73.2, Jones had a 78.0, and Bosa had a very elite 81.1. Maybe with a better crop of talent around Garrett, he’ll be able to improve against the run, though that’s anyone’s guess right now. Garrett has long been a player that uses his athleticism to beat guys off the block, so he’ll have to show a lot more in 2023 to warrant a Defensive Player of the Year consideration.

Just being good at getting to the quarterback isn’t enough anymore

Garrett is among the highest-paid players on not only the Browns, but at his position, and routinely he is a player who disappears for long stretches across multiple games, or only impacts the game on passing downs. That may be ok for some, but the Browns’ defense is not good and he’s the face of the defense.

If the Browns’ defense is constantly underperforming and he’s the best player on it, that says a lot about his ability to influence the game. Yes PFF rates him highly every year, but they overvalue sacks and pressure clearly. There’s no reason why Bosa, a better all-around player, has a lower PFF grade than Garrett. He’s nearly as good against the pass and infinitely better against the run yet he has a lower score.

Why? Just another reason to side-eye PFF.

Garrett’s clearly strong enough to be good against the run. We’ve all seen his videos. The thing that needs to be figured out is how to get him better against the run. The Browns were actually shockingly good against the run his rookie year, ranking 31st in yards per carry against and 26th in total yards given up. They allowed just 3.4 yards per carry.

The Browns lept to 10th in 2018 in yards per with 4.7 yards per carry. In 2019 they were at 3rd worst in the league with 5.0 yards per carry. They fell to 21st in 2020 with 4.3, 22nd in ’21 with 4.2, and 8th in the league with 4.7 in 2022.

And his PFF grades seem to reflect that. In ’17 he had a great 79.8 against the run, 2018 it was an even better 80.1, and then in 2019 is when the problems seem to start. It drops to 63.0 in ’19, rose up a bit to 73.8, before dropping back to 70.0 in 2021, and then finally in 2022 down to 68.3.

He hasn’t been god-awful, but you can clearly see the same effort hasn’t been there since 2018. Even when the Browns’ defense improved in ’20 and ’21, he barely did. He’s a necessary cog to the machine that is the defense but he’s clearly not putting in the same effort against the run as he is against the pass and he’s leaving his teammates to carry a lot of the metaphorical water in return.

The Browns need a big impact tackle and a heavier, tackle-ready linebacker to really give this Browns a boast. If they come in, and Garrett improves, then he should be in line for a defensive player of the year award, but if he and the rush defense struggles again, hard conversations are going to need to be had with Garrett.

Namely, what his value and worth really are to the Browns.

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