The Pittsburgh Steelers had better hope that their first-string left tackle can do a much better job over a full game than the Philadelphia Eagles’ second-string left tackle did in half a game’s work of going up against second-year Cleveland Browns edge defender Myles Garrett, who bullied Halapoulivaati Vaitai on what must have felt like every rep of the night.
The 2017 first-overall draft pick recorded two sacks against the defending Super Bowl champions, one of which was in the end zone for a safety, and he also registered two other quarterback hits, one of which helped lead to a sack for one of his teammates.
Garrett recorded seven sacks as a rookie last season despite missing five games and only starting nine in total. He missed the first four games of the season with an ankle injury, including the season opener against the Steelers, but he did record a sack in the season finale rematch.
He did beat the team’s left tackle, Alejandro Villanueva, for a sack at the end of the first half, though it came on a bit of a jailbreak play. The pass-rusher was able to turn the corner on the 6’9” protector, and as pressure came from inside, Landry Jones was forced to step back, and into the rush. Garrett jogged the ball loose and was recovered by the defense to prevent the Steelers from taking a two-possession lead at the cusp of field goal range.
As for his performance two nights ago, Garrett said that he would give himself a B grade for his work, telling reporters that he has “got to play the next half and see how it goes” first. “I definitely started off hot, but you’ve still got to finish the game’.
His head coach, Hue Jackson, expressed a similar sentiment, saying that he has seen similar performances as the one he had against the Eagles the week before and in practice. But “he has to do it every week for us. We just have to keep him healthy and keep him after it, and I think he will do that”, he said.
The Browns’ defense blanked the Eagles, pitching a shutout against a team that set offensive records in the Super Bowl earlier this year, though Philadelphia has looked far from super so far this preseason, and in fact have lost all three of their games so far.
As for Villanueva, he should face his steepest challenge of the preseason going up against the Titans’ defense, featuring Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan coming off the edge, as well as Jurrell Casey. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is only entering his fourth NFL season and still has room to grow, coming off his first Pro Bowl.