BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Sunday’s showdown against the Steelers will give the winner a leg up in trying to chase down the Ravens in the AFC North down the stretch.
Here’s our top Brownie Bites from Friday.
Getting’ chippy – No team chips Browns defensive end Myles Garrett more than the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Uh, yeah. They do,” Garrett said. Playing the Steelers is always physical, but more so for Garrett. “You got to get more physical with them,” Garrett said. “Got to find a way. If they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at me, well, then got to throw the fridge back, I guess.” You name it, the Steelers have probably done it to slow Garrett. “Sometimes they’ll have the tight end, they’ll follow me wherever I go, back to wherever I go,” Garrett said. “They’ll slide my way if they’re trying to get another formation or if they’re trying to get the back a free release. They’re trying to make sure I’m not going one-on-one as much as possible.” Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has tried to lighten Garrett’s snap counts this season as to keep him fresh for big moments in games, but last week against the Ravens Garrett played nearly every snap. He might have to again this week. “I don’t know, man, I’m getting old so it’s a matter of when they call I’ll pick up the phone, but they just don’t need me as much anymore,” Garrett said in jest. “Really it’s up to them. I’m going to be on the field as much as possible. and if there’s a big moment, if I can sense the momentum shifting, whether shifting towards them or we’re going to steal the game and put it away, I want to be on the field and I’m going to go out there and take charge. But as far as when things are still kind of weighing in the balance, I think it’s smart to allow them to kind of manage things and regulate the reps so that down the stretch I’m still working at full capacity.” Garrett is having a Defensive Player of the Year type season with 11.0 sacks, tied for the league lead with Danielle Hunter of the Vikings.
Finish strong – The Steelers at 6-3 are an anomaly. They’ve been out-gained in every game yet are in the playoff hunt “[They] Play harder for longer,” Garrett said. “They know how to finish and make plays down the stretch, and I think sometimes teams just lay off the gas just a little bit and later in the third quarter, fourth quarter, that’s when they really turn it up.” Pittsburgh is a perfect 6-0 in one-score games this year thanks to outscoring opponents 45-31 in the fourth quarter. “They're doing a nice job in that quarter,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We're concerned with them in the first, second, third and fourth quarter trying to stop that offense. I think they do a nice job with their run game, with their pass game. They put you in conflict quite a bit. But as it pertains to the fourth quarter, you just know it's a 60 minute football game.”
Angry run – Tight end David Njoku was chosen by NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt for his weekly Angry Runs segment for his catch and run against the Raves last week in which he ran through multiple tacklers. “I got a lot of love, but I really got to give the accolades to my teammates that play every play, especially the play that we pushed Jerome Ford plus more yards,” Njoku said. “We needed that. Those plays matter so much and it matters on the field, but it also matters to the charisma of the team. What it takes, whatever on that play specifically. I watched it over and over again and I see Elijah Moore, who's not really an offensive lineman, he's behind the pile pushing, knee driving, everything. I love that s***. That fuels me, and I'm sure it fuels the team as well, so seeing that, it just brings us much more together.” A commemorative t-shirt was designed for Njoku and he was sent a scepter by Brandt, which he broke in celebration.
No D MVP – There hasn’t been a defensive player to win the league MVP award since Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Garrett, who is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, explained why. “Because y’all love touchdowns. That’s it,” Garrett said. “People love high scores and big games from offensive guys. It’s not a fun game if a defensive guy goes off for two, three, four sacks and the score is 12-6 or 12-7. It’s not what people want to watch anymore. But I think things can shift. I think you can have guys who are kind of separating themselves by making different kind of plays, also doing things on the special teams and on offense. I still think that J.J. should have won it back when he had that tremendous year of doing things in every phase of the game. Right now, I think defensive guys should get just as much as consideration as anyone else.”
Jones and Dunn questionable – Dawand Jones and Michael Dunn are both listed as questionable for Sunday. Dunn was designated to return from injured reserve following a calf injury while Jones missed last week’s game due to shoulder and knee injuries. “We'll see where it goes,” Stefanski said of Jones. “Every injury is different. Was limited out there the last couple of days and we'll see where it goes.” There are no plans to move Jones to the left side and Geron Christian will continue to start at left tackle in place of Jedrick Wills Jr. according to Stefanski. As for Dunn’s progress Stefanski said, “He looks good. Gave us some good reps. Again, a very trustworthy, dependable guy. Fits well with what we do. He's played in games for us and performed well, so we'll see where it goes with him.”
Sound the alarm – Stefanski has a request of fans heading into Sunday’s big game. “We're excited to have that atmosphere at the energy that they bring has been unbelievable and they got to do it again,” Stefanski said. “It's an all hands on deck week and that includes the fans. So somebody set the air horn off in the Muni lot at about 1235. And get everybody's butt in that stadium because we're going to need them early. We want to start fast.”
Injury report – OUT: WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion), S Juan Thornhill (calf); QUESTIONABLE: RT Dawand Jones (knee), OG Michael Dunn (calf); EXPECTED TO PLAY: S Grant Delpit (rest/shoulder), WR David Bell (knee), DE Ogbo Okoronkwo (groin), CB Denzel Ward (neck), TE David Njoku (rest/knee), WR Greg Newsome II (groin), RG Wyatt Teller (ankle), RB Pierre Strong (knee), DE Alex Wright (knee)