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The Film Room: Myles Garrett & The Cleveland Browns D-Line

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We take a look at Myles Garrett first career start and the future of the Browns defense.

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There’s this British Alt Rock band called Duels that have this song called ‘‘Potential Futures’’ in which the main line of the chorus is:

‘‘Potential Futures make a life’’

I bring it up only because I think it’s the perfect encapsulation of what I think it must be like to be a fan of the Cleveland Browns. It’s never what you actually see in front of you that matters but the potential futures that you may yet get to see. It’s this constant promise of Colt McCoy, Johnny Manziel, Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Trent Richardson, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards and Brandon Weeden. It’s a endless cycles of woeful endings to what were once promising stories. It all starts with the thought that ‘‘MAYBE THIS IS OUR YEAR EH?’’. Some times it’s built around a shiny new QB, others it’s built around star defensive talents.

This time is the latter. The Browns drafted Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett first overall in this years draft. Garrett is what many have seen as this otherworldy talent with physical gifts and movement skills which just seem unfair for a man his size to possess. Garrett’s selection is in many ways the completion of what has been a complete overhaul within the Browns defensive line over the past 3 seasons. Since 2015 they have drafted a total of 8 defensive linemen, 2 in the first round, 2 in the second round and 3 in the third round. This large scale investment in talent has been all while the Browns have been shifting through head coaches and defensive coordinators schemes. All of this while trying to shuffle the playing time of 3-4 new rookies every year, sometimes replacing or taking playing time from players who are in the process of developing and need that time to develop further. It’s a utterly horrible situation to try and develop talent in......and yet the Browns may have actually stumbled upon something.

Garrett has all the potential in the world but it’s the pieces that are around him already which provide the most optimism. NT Danny Shelton was the Browns first of the Browns 2 1st round picks in 2015 and DE Emmanuel Ogbah was the Browns second round pick in 2016. Both have become integral parts of the Browns emerging defensive lines with Shelton occupying the role of space eating NT inside whilst Ogbah anchors one side of the defensive line. Both however are incredibly unique in their own way however, Ogbah in particular shares much of the same physical traits as Myles Garrett.

These are the combine numbers for Ogbah, Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney all of which are related to how they rank in terms of historical combine performance:

Clowney:

Garrett:

Ogbah:

All three are freak athletes and while Ogbah might not match up to Garrett and Clowney he is still a freak even by NFL standards.

Last Sunday against the Jets was the first time this season that all 3 got to play on the field for the same time due to Garrett’s injury keeping him sidelined for the start of the season. Garrett was limited throughout the game by only charting 19 snaps he still had an impact when he was on the field. Garrett’s game works mostly around his immense physical ability and his tendency to often try and win as a speed rusher. He can do it, it’s just it’s not his forte and often he will just get run past the pocket trying to do it like he does here:

Garrett is No.95 and is matched up against former Texans TE Eric Tomlinson. You might notice that on this play he actually get the sack. That however isn’t the point, the sack is kind of made by the fact Josh McCown holds onto the ball too long after his underneath receiver doesn’t gain separtation. McCown then makes the breathtakingly interesting decision to try and escape the pocket. Now Josh McCown is 38 and hasn’t really been known for his wheels even in his prime so a scramble is probably a bad decision here. Garrett attempted to speed rush around Tomlinson and got washed past McCown by Tomlinson and RB Elijah McGuire. Full credit though to Garrett for spinning back towards the play when McCown goes to take off and then taking down McCown for the sack.

Plays like end up annoying me because of what I know Garrett can do and what he isn’t doing on this play. Take this example from late in the second quarter where it’s the final Jets play before the half and they are out of field goal range so they are probably going to pass it.

What Garrett does here is exemplify just why he can be so damm dominating at times. He works to the outside shoulder of the RT in what looks like speed rush. Instead of trying to get around the RT though Garrett drives back inside by shooting his left hand into the chest of the RT. Garrett has all the leverage here and capitalises on this by planting his right foot and driving into the RT. When it comes to pass rushing the old adage is ‘‘one arm is longer than two’’ which in laymans terms means it’s difficult for a O-Lineman to get any leverage against a rushing D-lineman when they are keeping you at arms length. What’s impressive here is that Garrett is able to get a push against the RT with just one arm before he pivots inwards and drives with his full force. What’s so tantalising about this is that it shows just what Garrett can do every play. He’s one of the biggest and strongest on that defensive line and yet he keeps trying to dip and rip with speed rushes like he’s Von Miller or Robert Quinn. That’s not to say he can’t do those kinds of thing, he can, he’s that athletic but it shouldnt’ be his calling card right now. Not when he can do things like this:

That kind of first step explosion is insane when you consider that Garrett comes from the other side of the LG and completely blows by him into the A gap before the LG has even had a second to react. For moves like that to work and to be as effective they do require a bit of preparation. The LG wasn’t expecting the player on his outside shoulder to come all the way across his face and attack the inside gap. He’s probably going to remember that next time he faces Garrett. Stuff like that is important in building a complete pass rushing repertoire because it shows variety and that keeps O-Linemen on their toes. The Jets OT were comfortable setting to the outside and calmly escorting Garrett past the pocket when he tried to speed rush because they didn’t have the fear of what he could do as a 7 tech when he attacked the inside instead of outside. It’s 19 snaps into Garrett’s career but he’s already shown why he is to be feared and why he’ll hopefully add to a already talented D-line.

While Garrett is developing the two other budgeoning stars of the Browns D-Line are busy making waves of their own.

This play perfectly encapsulates why both players are so dangerous. Here I have Shelton highlighted in yellow, he’s lined up over the Center in a 1-Tech alignment whilst Ogbah, who is highlighted in red, is lined up in a 9 technique or wide 9. The Jets are going to run a play right between Ogbah and the DT to his right. For this Eric Tomlinson(#83) is going to go straight to the second level to block the linebacker while the RG pulls out and leads the back through the hole.

This kind of snap highlights why Danny Shelton is scary. Shelton is twitchy as all hell and as soon as the snap gets off he shoots his hands straight into the Centers(#76) chest before he had a chance to react and damm near throws the Center at the running back. Meanwhile Ogbah has shot inside to meet the pulling guard and uses his insanely strong hands to get underneath the guards pads and stack him up before shedding the block and crashing right down on the RB as he enters the lane. These two create such a frightening dynamic for any offense to consider. When your 330lbs NT can dive into the backfield like he’s Aaron Donald no play is ever safe.

Here’s another example of Ogbah and Shelton impacting the run game in different ways.

Shelton is again lined up over the Center while Ogbah is on the right in the 7 technique to the outside shoulder of the Right Tackle. The Jets are running a Power Run between the Right Guard and Right Tackle. Once the ball get’s snapped Shelton and the DT to his left crash into the A and B gaps between the C and RG and RG and RT. Meanwhile Ogbah is playing contain on the edge just daring the RB to cut the ball outside.

Shelton and his companion at DT crash straight down on the Jets interior line forcing them towards the lane where the run was originally slated to go. Ogbah meanwhile is having a whale of a time just toying with the Jets RT. Ogbah’s hands are just so strong that he can allow himself to leverage towards the outside lane and not get blown away by the blocker. Instead he positions himself in the outside lane as a deterrent to the RB cutting to the outside and forces the play back towards the inside where the Jets O-Line is rapidly disintegrating. Once the back cuts back inside Ogbah rips the RT aside and crashes back inside to combine with LB Christian Kirksey for the tackle.

The tantalising thing about those two examples is that Myles Garrett isn’t on the field for either of them. Due to the injuries and Gregg Williams weird schemes these 3 have seen precious little of the field together. However with all 3 fit for the first time we could hopefully get a glimpse of their potentially bright future.