Cleveland Browns star pass rusher Myles Garrett generated a ton of attention coming out of a Week One win over the Cincinnati Bengals thanks not only to his highlight reel-worthy crossover pass rush, but also his alignment on the play and throughout the game.
Under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Browns moved Garrett all over the defensive front, searching for advantageous situations in the trenches on the wet, rainy day, allowing the Browns to generate a ton of pressure against Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow.
While many believed that the alignment of Garrett by Cleveland pre-snap was rather interesting and a new wrinkle from Schwartz, it wasn’t anything very new or surprising to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Speaking to KDKA’s Bob Pompeani Saturday for the Mike Tomlin Show presented by 84 Lumber, Tomlin stated that the Browns have always moved Garrett around and that “everybody’s gotta be ready” to block him on Monday Night Football at Acrisure Stadium.
“They’ve always moved him around. The nature of that movement is a little bit different because the coordinator is different. But anytime you have a dynamic guy, [Nick] Bosa moved around, for example, a lot last week, those type people, they’re on the move for balance to keep help off of them, to challenge you schematically not knowing where they might be,” Tomlin told Pompeani, according to video via Steelers.com. “That’s always been an element of his game. Everybody’s gotta be ready to block Myles Garrett. You got to be real sound with your protection plan because at times it’s difficult to anticipate where he’s gonna be. That’s Myles Garrett football.”
In 43 snaps in the 24-3 win over Cincinnati, Garrett registered 39 snaps on the defensive line and four snaps in the “box” listed as a linebacker.
Of those 43 snaps, he lined up at left end 11 times, left outside linebacker three times, right end 24 times and right outside linebacker one time, according to Pro Football Focus. At linebacker, Garrett was listed as left inside linebacker once and right inside linebacker twice, with one other snap coming as a true middle linebacker.
Last season, the Browns had Garrett lined up primarily outside of the tackles with 734 snaps out of 804 coming aligned outside of the tackle. That didn’t exactly change in Week One, but Schwartz certainly showed a tendency to move Garrett inside and stand him up, letting his athleticism take over.
In 2022, Garrett had just 12 snaps as a “box” defender. He had four on Sunday. He’s had just 25 career snaps as a “box” defender, so it’s something that’s likely to continue for Garrett and the Browns moving forward under Schwartz.
That could be trouble for guards Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels and center Mason Cole on Monday night. All three struggled in pass protection against the 49ers, and that was against bigger, stronger defensive tackles. Garrett has the strength of some of those guys, but his athleticism is absurd, better than Nick Bosa’s too.
Garrett could be a nightmare on the interior Monday night. The Steelers will have to have a plan for him. It will take multiple guys. It won’t just be Garrett against Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor as matchups to watch. It’ll be all five starters for the Steelers in the trenches. He’s a trump card for the defense. We’ll see what the plan is.