Nov. 11—Todd Monken, the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, had the same job in Cleveland in 2019 in Freddy Kitchens' one and only season as head coach of the Browns.
Monken liked Myles Garrett a whole lot better four years ago than he does now.
The Browns and Ravens meet at 1 p.m. on Nov. 12 in an AFC North showdown at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Reporters covering the Ravens on Nov. 9 asked Monken about the challenges of preparing for Garrett, the Browns' seventh-year defensive end who is tied for second in the NFL with 9.5 sacks. And there is more to Garrett than just sacks.
"Garrett has been the highest-graded player in the NFL this season," Pro Football Focus wrote on Nov. 9 in its midseason report card. "He's generated a pass-rush win rate of 27.1%, the best mark at the position."
Just how much Garrett can disrupt the Ravens' offense, specifically how aggressively he can get after quarterback Lamar Jackson, will be critical to the Browns' chances of pulling an upset. The Browns, 6.5-point underdogs, are 5-19 playing in Baltimore since 1999.
"It's awful," Monken said about preparing for Garrett. "It absolutely stinks. He has such natural ability, and he's worked awfully hard to really drill down his pass rush moves, and he's relentless.
"You have to account for wherever he's at, which is for any elite player. It makes it difficult in terms of everything that you do because he can wreck the game. He made it hell on Indy. He's a tremendous young man. He's a hard worker and a great kid, but it stinks to play against him. You'd prefer he's out."
Garrett had two strip sacks that led to touchdowns and blocked a field goal when the Browns beat the Colts, 39-38, on Oct. 22. The blocked field goal attempt led to a Browns field goal.
Garrett sacked Jackson once, hit him two other times and made one other tackle when the Browns and Ravens met on Oct. 1 at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but Superman couldn't have saved the Browns that day. Deshaun Watson was scratched from the lineup about three hours before kickoff because of a shoulder injury. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson started in place of Watson and threw three interceptions in a 28-3 loss.
Watson is back for the rematch. DTR has been demoted to third quarterback behind Watson and P.J. Walker, who began the season on the practice squad.
"Yeah, big difference (with Watson back), I hope," offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. "That's the plan going in. Have a good week of preparation. Deshaun's played this group before, so know what to expect there. And he played well last time he played them here at home."
Still, the defense will have to be in top form for the Browns to improve to 6-3. The Ravens lead the AFC North at 7-2. The Steelers and Bengals, like the Browns, are 5-3.
The Browns held Baltimore to three-and-out the first two times the Ravens had the ball on Oct. 1. But then DTR threw his first interception. Cornerback Brandon Stephens returned the ball 52 yards to the Browns 10.
Jackson ran the ball in for a Baltimore touchdown the play after the Stephens interception. The fourth Ravens touchdown drive, making the score 28-3, was 38 yards after Thompson-Robinson threw his second interception. In between the Browns gave up touchdown drives of 93 and 74 yards in the second quarter.
Browns at Ravens
When: 1 p.m. Nov. 12
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore Md.
Records: Browns 5-3, Ravens 7-2
TV: WJW; Radio: WKRK-FM 92.3, WNCX-FM 98.5, WKNR-AM 850