Myles Garrett is piling up sacks, but the Cleveland Browns star pass-rusher is also building quite the collection of yellow hankies that are making his wallet a bit lighter and earning him some criticism as a “dirty player.”
Garrett delivered the hit that knocked Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian out of Monday’s night’s matchup, which the Browns won 23-3. Garrett was flagged on the play for roughing the passer — one of four penalties the Pro Bowler received (two roughing the passer, two offsides).
“I’m supposed to be a leader for this defense and for this team,” Garrett told reporters after the game. “So I can’t be having those negative plays affecting my team like that.”
Myles Garrett Vilified for Quarterback Hits Against Jets
There was a social media outcry after the hit on Siemian, which pegged Garrett — who had three sacks in the game — as dirty.
Garrett immediately responded to the claims after the game on Twitter and then again in his post-game press conference.
“I don’t want a reputation as a guy who hits late or hits high intentionally,” Garrett said. “That’s never my goal. I’m just trying to get after the quarterback and be effective at all times. I’m just trying to make him worry about me more than he is his receivers downfield. And that’s what I did. God bless [Siemian]. I hope he heals up very soon, very quick and everything goes well with a speedy recovery, but that’s how the game goes.”
Garrett made his appeal after the game that his job is becoming harder because quarterbacks are getting more and more protection through the rules.
“They have been getting added protection as the years go on. They sell the tickets — quarterbacks throwing touchdowns,” Garrett said. “But it’s our job to get after them. I’m not going to stop that. I’m just going to play the game how it’s supposed to be played, nothing pre or post snap.”
Garrett has drawn some criticism from his coach Freddie Kitchens for the “selfish” flags, but his skipper mostly had his back in the postgame.
“When you get penalties with hits on the quarterback, it’s either the level that you’re hitting on or you hit him late,” Kitchens said. “At least this week it wasn’t hitting him late, the second one. The first one, I’m not sure about. The official said he hit him too high, and I think it was a good call.
“I don’t know what it is but [Garrett] understands the problem. He’s going to continue to work on the problem. I called Myles over to the side, and I talked to him. He told me what the officials told him. I sent him out there and his job was to get after the quarterback, and that’s what he’s going to continue to do. So you guys [in the media] can make a big story about it all you want, but he’s going to continue to get after the quarterback.”
Garrett echoed Kitchens, saying that he wants to work on the penalty issue.
“I’m supposed to be a leader for this defense and for this team,” he said. “I can’t be doing that and having those negative plays effecting my team like that.”
Myles Garrett in Rare Air as Sack Artist
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Garrett had a tremendous game with his three sacks and he now leads the NFL with five.
“I’m glad about the sacks,” Garrett said. “I’m glad about how we did overall on defense keeping them to three points, keeping [running back] Le’Veon Bell mostly under wraps, knowing he is a threat at all times. But the best part is getting the win, getting that weight off of us and getting some momentum, trying to stack some wins.”
Garrett and the Browns have another primetime matchup next week on Sunday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams.