Oct. 28—Quarterbacks have had difficulty eluding Myles Garrett since the No. 1 pick of the 2017 draft stepped onto the field as a rookie defensive end with the Browns. The Defensive Player of the Year award Garrett has been chasing — that's another matter.
Garrett never received a mention for the award until last year, when he finished fifth in the voting. To be sure, he has had some stiff competition.
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore won the award in 2019. T.J. Watt of the Steelers won it in 2021 and Nick Bosa of the 49ers won it last year.
Garrett could finally break the drought if he continues to play the way he has through the first six games this season. He has 7.5 sacks, which is third in the league behind Danielle Hunter of the Vikings (nine) and Watt (eight sacks).
"I don't get into all that. Awards are awards," Garrett said Oct. 27 in the Browns locker room. "At the end of the day, we want the big one, the Lombardi. So we have to continue to play together as a team, complementary so we can win that one.
"Defensive Player of the Year — that comes down to statistics and sometimes narrative. So you have to play for the love of the game and play for your teammates. All the rest of that will take care of itself."
Garrett has 22 tackles, three forced fumbles and one pass breakup. He is the reason the Browns beat the Colts last week. He had two strip sacks of Indianapolis quarterback Gardner Minshew and he leaped over the Colts' long snapper to block a 60-yard field goal attempt. He was responsible for the Browns scoring 17 of their 39 points and for the Colts missing out on three points.
"Myles — he's doing things that not many humans can do," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said.
Two things can help Garrett win the DPOY award. One would be for the Browns to stay in contention so they are playing meaningful games in late December. A player that puts up gaudy stats, either on offense or defense, but plays on a team that is 6-9 around Christmas doesn't get much love from the 50 writers/broadcasters casting votes.
Garrett can help his own cause by making impact plays in the biggest games. The Browns play the Ravens in Baltimore on Nov. 12 and the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium a week later. They host the Jets in a nationally televised Thursday night game Dec. 28.
Garrett has benefitted from playing in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz' attacking schemes. Sacks and forced fumbles are the highlight plays, but Garrett is more than just a rush specialist. He totaled nine tackles against the Colts.
"Let's be for real; that was a performance for the ages," Schwartz said on Oct. 26. "Eight tackles (The NFL game book had Garrett with nine) is hard for a defensive end to make.
"And maybe one other thing that sort of flies a little bit below the radar; we lost Alex (Wright) early in that game and Ogbo (Okoronkwo) was struggling with his ribs. Hats off to Ogbo because he was playing on half a body, but he was trying to keep going out there and tough it out for us. Myles played just about every play in the second half and was still able to come up with plays like that and that's just another tribute to him as a player."
Once again, a strong finish by Garrett will be the key to him winning the prestigious Defensive Player of the Year Award and, more importantly, to the Browns making the playoffs.
Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was nicknamed "Mr. October" for the way he performed in the playoffs. He hit 18 home runs, drove in 48 runs and scored 41 runs over his playoff career. He homered three times and drove in five runs for the Yankees on Oct. 18, 1977, to clinch the World Series, 8-4, over the Dodgers.
Mr. October is a great nickname for a baseball player who performed in the clutch. Mr. October fits Garrett, too, and not for good reasons.
Garrett has 26 career sacks in September, 30 in October, 9.5 in November, 12.5 in December and 3.5 in January.
—Jim Donovan, the popular radio play-by play voice of the Browns since 1999 and sports anchor of WKYC-TV 3, continues to make progress in his treatment for leukemia. Donovan is hopeful of returning to the radio booth and anchor chair before the current football season ends. No target date for his return has been announced.
Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network, will do the play-by-play Oct. 29 when the Browns play the Seahawks in Seattle. This will be the third straight game Siciliano has handled the play-by-play with Nathan Zegura as color commentator. Donovan did the play-by-play for the opener and then Chris Rose filled in for Donovan the next three games.
A voice familiar to Ohio State fans will be in the radio booth on Nov. 5 when the Browns play the Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Paul Keels, who has done play-by-play of Buckeyes football since 1998, will handle the same duties for the Cardinals-Browns one day after Ohio State plays at Rutgers.
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