Way back early in the draft process, eventual first-overall draft pick Myles Garrett joked that the Cowboys should ‘come get him’, trading up with the Cleveland Browns to the top spot and draft pick. That got him some bad press, but by the end of it, he was threatening Cleveland with a decade of payback if they weren’t the team to take him.
Now his words are coming back to haunt him again—sort of. On draft night, he was asked about playing in the AFC North, and how his first game would come up against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not that there was really much else that he could say, but when asked about Roethlisberger, he said that he’s “going to try to take him down”, talking about how long he has watched the quarterback over the years and how he will finally have an opportunity to face him.
That story got back to the Steelers, and particularly their offensive linemen, who will be tasked with blocking him and keeping Roethlisberger clean, and they certainly seemed to be amused by it.
Roethlisberger mentioned it during his recent interview with Ron Cook for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, telling the reporter that he was talking with center Maurkice Pouncey when they heard about it. “Pounce got a big kick out of it”, he said. “All of my linemen enjoyed hearing it. They can’t wait to get started. I can’t either”.
I suppose there’s nothing quite like facing an opponent in the opening game of the season who has already placed a target on his back the way that Garrett has by indirectly challenging the Steelers’ growing offensive line, which finished last season as easily among the best units in football.
Marcus Gilbert is no stranger to exchanging words with opposing players, especially those within the division. When he heard about Garrett’s statement, he Tweeted about it, writing “see you 9/10 big fella” and “you’ll get your chance pup”. September 10 is the date of the opening game, of course, while pup is a reference to Cleveland’s ‘Dawg Pound’ and Garrett’s inexperience.
While Roethlisberger did miss some time last season due to a knee injury, and also sat out the final game of the season after the Steelers secured their best-possible seeding in the playoffs, he was sacked just 17 times over the course of the 2016 season, the lowest in his career. He was sacked on just 3.2 percent of his dropbacks, also the lowest of his career.
I certainly don’t believe that Garrett said anything particularly inflammatory, nor anything that a first-overall draft pick should be expected to say (trying to take a quarterback down is literally in his job description), but it’s equally clear how and why a prideful veteran offensive line group would be bemused by such a remark by a player who has yet to take a practice snap against a professional.