Myles Garrett 'respects' Kevin Stefanski's decision to bench him over 'misunderstanding'
BEREA — Myles Garrett accepted the decision coach Kevin Stefanski made when the Browns All-Pro defensive end was benched for the New Orleans Saints' first offensive series last Saturday.
“I think it was a misunderstanding at the end of the day," Garrett said Friday, "but, I mean, that's how it went down and got to respect how he feels about the situation and his judgment.”
Garrett did not play for the first three plays of the Browns' 17-10 loss to the Saints. New Orleans went three-and-out, punting from its own 8.
Stefanski, when asked earlier in the week, said the decision to not start Garrett, a team captain, was his due to a "team thing." He did not elaborate on the reasons.
Garrett said the "miscommunication" surrounded the illness he dealt with last week. He missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday leading into the game against New Orleans due to being sick.
“That was coach’s decision based off of what happened during the week, and I respect his decision," Garrett said. "I was sick and I didn't communicate well enough.”
Garrett, who was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl and fourth overall last Wednesday, did return to the field for the next defensive series for the Browns. He ended up playing a total of 36 snaps on defense, which accounted for 67% of the defensive snaps.
It's the first time Garrett has been publicly disciplined by the team in any game since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. Only injuries or his six-game league suspension at the end of the 2019 season have sidelined him before.
“This was the first time, something like this," Garrett said. "I don't foresee anything like this happening again.”
Stefanski said Friday there was no residual effect from the one-series discipline in terms of Garrett's performance in the week leading up to Sunday's game at the Washington Commanders. Garrett did sit out Wednesday's practice, but that has been his typical rest day through the season.
Garrett also indicated that bygones are bygones with regard to the incident.
“Yeah, that's behind us," Garrett said. "We’re not worried about it. Nobody's in here worried about it.”
Even after the incident, Garrett has still seen as having grown as a leader in his sixth season. However, defensive coordinator Joe Woods hinted at other issues in the locker room not necessarily involving Garrett that have been problematic.
Safety Grant Delpit did not play the first snap of the Browns' Nov. 13 loss at Miami due to a team issue. Rookie defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey was also inactive for the Sept. 18 loss to the New York Jets after he had been sent home from practice on the preceding Friday.
“I thought he definitely stepped up from the offseason throughout the season and tried to be because you have to be a leader in your own way," Woods said Thursday of Garrett. "Some guys are leaders vocally. Some guys are leader by example. I think he is a little bit of both. I felt like he stepped up and did a good job.
"We just obviously don’t want to have any issues. Throughout the year, we have had multiple issues with certain guys, so those are definitely things we want to clean up. In terms of him as a leader, I felt like he really tried to step up and do a good job for us this year.”
Garrett has certainly done that through his play, for the most part. Even while battling shoulder and biceps injuries sustained when his flipped his Porsche in a single-car accident on Sept. 26, which caused him to miss the Oct. 2 game at Atlanta, he's fourth in the league in sacks with 13.5, four behind San Francisco's Nick Bosa.
However, Garrett was also one of the loudest to proclaim the Browns' playoff hopes still intact "as long as the door's cracked," he said after a Dec. 11 loss in Cincinnati dropped them to 5-8. Now at 6-9 for the season, the door's slammed shut on those hopes officially, that occurring with the loss to the Saints.
With two games and just over one week left in the season, the leadership with which Woods said Garrett has done a "good job" will be needed as much as anything. That's something he acknowledged himself Friday while talking about the Browns' motivation.
“I mean, for sure, it's a frustrating thing," Garrett said of missing the playoffs. "Visibly frustrated, get home and just that kind of energy you’ve brought throughout the season, you have to try to hold onto that. Energy just can’t, it's got to move, it's got to be in an environment or at leaves. It continues to move and display itself in different manners.
"But know when you lose like that and then you feel like you have a disappointing season, you missed the playoffs, when you feel like you should've made it or you should've done better, that’s when you move the energy in the building, lose the positivity and things start to go into disarray. But as you can see there's still a lot of positivity in here, still a lot of guys who love being around each other and playing the game at a high level.
"So it really keeps us up, especially knowing that we have underachieved, but we’re not going to walk around with our heads held down.”
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns' Myles Garrett says reason to bench him a 'misunderstanding'