Two of the very best defensive players in the entirety of football will be on the field tomorrow in Cleveland. On the one side is the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers’ own T.J. Watt, who comes into the game third in the NFL with seven sacks. On the other side is hometeam Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett, who leads the NFL with 9.5 sacks in seven games.
Both players were drafted into the AFC North in the first round in 2017. Garrett was the first overall pick, while Watt was drafted toward the very end of the round. They have both had excellent careers, particularly accumulating sacks at a rather high volume. The long and short of it, both offensive coordinator better not lose sight of the one they have to face.
“You definitely know where he is. It’s not like he’s hard to miss. He’s a tremendous talent”, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada said on Thursday. “They do a really good job of moving him and getting him on different guys. You have to have a good plan, which we’re going to try to do, but everybody else has tried to do too. It’s not like you don’t watch tape and see guys doubling him and chipping him”.
Garrett, who set a single-game franchise record earlier this year by recording 4.5 sacks in one afternoon, has recorded at least half a sack in all but one game so far this season. Watt, likewise, had recorded at least one sack in all but one game, though, due to the bye week and a game lost due to injury, he has played two fewer games.
And of course, neither of them are alone. Watt has Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, and Cameron Heyward supporting the pass rush, as well. This year, Garrett has Jadeveon Clowney on the other side opposite him, who is winning at a high rate as well.
“He’s a great player, and then they’ve got a bunch of other good players up front too so it’s not like you can just send everybody at him”, Canada said about gameplanning to stop Garrett. “We’ll know where he is, but there are a lot of guys over there that are a threat and a problem as well”.
The biggest difference may come down to the offensive lines. The Browns have the clear edge in that department in terms of both performance and experience, but Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accommodates by getting the ball out quickly. Baker Mayfield hasn’t exactly been great about staying out of sacks, nor Case Keenum, for that matter.