The Browns (7-7) are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Packers (11-3) are battling to stay atop the NFC and earn the one coveted bye through the Wildcard round. But there is at least one thing both teams share — a mutual respect for the threat the other represents to their hopes for this season.
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That respect is clearer nowhere than in the comments made by the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Aaron Rodgers, about the Browns’ Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Myles Garrett. Matt Schneidman, Packers beat writer for The Athletic, took to Twitter on Wednesday, December 21 to share what the Green Bay quarterback had to say about Cleveland’s premier defensive end.
“He’s just a monster,” Rodgers said. “He’s a fantastic player. He legitimately has gold jacket possibilities in his future.”
For those unfamiliar with Canton, Ohio, the gold jacket to which Rodgers was referring is the same one the NFL hands out to those players spectacular enough to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Garrett’s Status for Packers Matchup in Doubt
Rodgers, a three-time league MVP and Super Bowl champion, has already put together a Hall of Fame career — and then some. Unfortunately, football fans may not get to see the potentially epic matchup between the Packers QB and Garrett, who is arguably the best pass rusher in the league right now.
The obstacle standing in the way is a groin strain Garrett sustained during the second half of Monday night’s narrow defeat to the Las Vegas Raiders. He gutted that game out, but to play or not to play may not be a decision solely in Garrett’s hands when it comes to the Packers on Christmas Day.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said Tuesday that his star pass rusher was questionable and that more time and tests are needed before a decision on his status can be made.
“I just don’t know,” he said. “Still have more info coming in.”
Stefanski’s answer hadn’t changed as of Wednesday, when he told media members that the Browns were still in a wait-and-see pattern. Garrett, however, appears to have a differing perspective.
“You’re going to have to kill me to get me off that field,” Garrett told reporters during a press conference following the Raiders game Monday night.
Garrett One of Several Pass Rushers Possibly Out Against Packers
The Browns’ problems along the defensive line will potentially begin with Garrett, but they certainly won’t end there.
Fellow starting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was designated to the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Sunday, rendering his status for Christmas Day questionable. Meanwhile, reserve pass rusher Takkarist McKinley was lost for the season following a torn Achilles tendon in the second half Monday.
Rodgers has been lights out this season, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns as opposed to just 4 interceptions through 13 of 14 regular season games played and started, per Pro Football Reference.
Following a goose egg laid by Tom Brady (+195) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints over the weekend, Rodgers (+140) has officially moved back into the lead for league MVP with just three games to play, according to award odds provided by FanDuel.
Down a useful number of pass rushers, Saturday’s crucial matchup between the Browns and the Packers could prove somewhat anti-climactic. That is, of course, unless Garrett is able to go, in which case all bets are off.
Rodgers knows that’s true, and after his glowing commentary on Garrett Wednesday, now so does everyone else.