Joe Flacco is quick to credit the Cleveland Browns’ defense for its role in the team’s playoff drive.
But what happened to Myles Garrett and his bid to be the Defensive Player of the Year?
Cleveland’s defensive captain hasn’t taken down a single quarterback in the past four games.
But according to Kevin Stefanski, sacks or no sacks, Garrett is still the best defensive player in the league, and, as recently noted by BIGPLAY.com’s Matt Fontana on Twitter, Stefanski says it isn’t even close.
#Browns Kevin Stefanski on Myles Garrett:
He is the best player on the best defense in the league. He is dominate. He is the defensive player of the year, I don't think it's close. I don't know if there is anyone in the same realm as him.
— Matt Fontana (@MattFontana83) December 19, 2023
Stefanski calls Garrett “dominant” and says no other player is in the same realm as his Pro Bowl edge rusher.
But Defensive Player of the Year voters dig sacks, and Garrett is stuck at 13 on the season.
That is still good for seventh-best in the NFL and only three behind the leader, T.J. Watt.
It’s not unthinkable that Garrett can close that gap rather quickly, best evidenced by his 3.5 sacks against Tennessee, and there are reasons beyond sacks for Stefanski to rave about his four-time Pro Bowler.
Garrett still puts plenty of pressure on quarterbacks and forces offenses to alter their game plans.
One play in particular against Chicago exemplifies the sack-less impact Garrett can have.
On the play, a tight end engaged Garrett to allow the Bears’ offensive tackle to set himself for the edge rush.
Chicago’s running back also stayed in behind the tackle to assist in keeping Garrett away from the passer.
That took a pair of targets away from Justin Fields and diverted attention away from other pass rushers.
And Garrett still remains within range for career highs in QB hits, TFLs, forced fumbles, and even sacks.