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Dispensing of the cold take narratives on Myles Garrett: While We’re Waiting

The 2017 Cleveland Browns season is almost upon us. Thanks to the tireless efforts of avid commenter RGB, y’all should know exactly how many days until the first snaps of the preseason. If not, then you can check the comments below and see the glorious countdown as it closes in on the final days. The best part about our impending shift from the offseason to the actual season is that ridiculous takes are replaced by game action.

As the Browns had the number one overall selection, the offseason saw quite a bit of media attention focused on what the Browns should do with that first pick. Unfortunately for those attempting to drive clicks to their websites, there was a quick consensus and obvious choice for the best player with an astronomical grade in the 2017 NFL Draft, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Undeterred by film, facts, and reason, several blowhards and media executives decided to create their own tired narratives in desperate attempts to add an element of wonder into the opening of the draft.

The Browns wound up making the obvious- and only- choice when they took Garrett. He has been given rave reviews in all respects since he was drafted. He has wowed bystanders during practice, at the Brown and Orange scrimmage (four sacks), he has been thoughtful in interviews, and in working with future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas on how to eliminate any tells he has.

There is always the possibility that Garrett will struggle to stay healthy (he had a minor foot injury during OTAs) or that he won’t quite live up to his billing as a dominant pass rusher who can also set the edge on run defense. However, most of the takes were ridiculous or over-dramatizations that were only created in order to generate revenue because consensus is considered boring.

Let’s take a look at some of these imaginary obstacles towards selecting Garrett and see if there are any worth tracking as we finally get to see Garrett take the field.

Myles Garrett doesn’t want to play in a cold weather city: In the height of bowl season and before it was known whether the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers would have the first overall selection, Garrett made the following quote that filled the airways and internet pages for a good week.

“Doesn’t matter (who drafts me) … but I’d like not to go anywhere cold,” Garrett said Tuesday, per The Houston Chronicle. “Whoever picks me up, I’m going to try and play my best for, to be the best player on the field at any given time. It doesn’t matter who picks me up, I’m going to try and be a franchise player for them.”

This quote was obviously overblown as the second half of it was often excluded. Also, the fact that he was almost went to the Ohio State University instead of Texas A&M because of their paleontology program demonstrated that the cold weather wasn’t going to be an item that held too much sway in future decisions. Still, it required Garrett to respond to it later in the draft process.

“Relax,” Garrett said. “I want to be the greatest player who has ever been at my position, the greatest player who has ever played. I have to pass up [Tom] Brady now, but no matter what team that is, I’m going to give my all.”

Myles Garrett has too many off field distractions: Garrett’s curiosity in paleontology, books, and poetry was utilized in an attempt to indicate he had too many off the field distractions and that he wasn’t focused enough on football. Another ridiculous notion considering that he limits social media,1 doesn’t drink, and I would like to find anyone that believes this man doesn’t spend enough time in the gym.

Myles Garrett desperately wants the Dallas Cowboys to trade for him: ESPN was up to it’s usual tricks on this one. Just a few days after Garrett declared that he would spend draft night with his family rather than in New York City, ESPN fired back by releasing a video of a months old clip where he was joking. WFNY already covered this event in detail, but here was the synopsis:

The ire drawn by many was due to a video release from ESPN of Garrett smiling and laughing as he begged Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to trade up to the first overall pick with the Cleveland Browns. Garrett grew up in Arlington, Texas – the location of AT&T Stadium.

ESPN failed to note they were leveraging the video clip in order to create their own news on an otherwise slow sports weekend. February 10, 2017, was the first time ESPN disseminated the video. There was no notice the clip was from an awards show banquet on December 8, 2016, until the initial video had gone viral. WFNY has covered clickbait and fake news in recent weeks; this case was a combination of the two as ESPN generated their own news cycle. ESPN masterfully can create controversy and have enough weight to create synergy of diversified opinions to both destroy and defend an item of interest. All while collecting ratings and clicks. It is as disgusting as it is effective.

Myles Garrett is lazy: Warren Sapp wanted to get in on this action and so he went knee deep in the mud when he made this quote.

“I see a lazy kid that makes four plays a game. This is the No. 1 guy? No, no, no. This ain’t even close. … I don’t see it from this kid. I see the splash plays; everybody gets those. Where’s the game he took over? Where? Any defensive lineman who’s the No. 1 pick, you turn up and you say, ‘There it is!’ This kid, no, I don’t. I’m a pretty plain and frank guy, and I watch the tape and he disappears. I watch the tape, and he absolutely disappears.”

Whooo boy. Sapp needed a controversy to put his name in the news cycle during the draft week. This one did the trick. As with all good narratives, there is an element of truth in it. Garrett did “take plays off” when the offense ran away from him or when the pass was completed down field. He was not one with a motor that ran red hot who would never be seen standing still on the field. There is a balance here- you don’t want to wear yourself out- but it is a weakness worth tracking. But, to claim he didn’t dominate games? To state he only makes four plays a game? There are many things Garrett did on tape but disappearing wasn’t one of them unless you count the times that the offense frantically ran outside away from him because he completely shut off his end of the field.

Barnett is the best defensive end in the NFL Draft’s Bucky Brooks was among the pundits to proclaim that Derek Barnett of Tennessee should be a consideration for the top pick in the draft. Barnett would drop to the Philadelphia Eagles due to concerns his lack of measurables would limit him against some of the more experienced tackles in the NFL.

Yet, scouts paying close attention to SEC football and Barnett’s spectacular production should give the Tennessee star a serious look at the top of the draft.

He displays enough quickness, balance and body control to blow past blockers with dip-and-rip maneuvers or he can use a variety of power moves, including the butt-and-jerk or bull rush to get home off the edge. With Barnett also displaying a non-stop motor to complement his technically sound game, he’s like an old-school construction worker with a hard hat, lunch pail and a shiny toolbox. He has all of the rugged traits that you covet in a player while also displaying the skills to dominate at the next level.

“He’s not going to run a fast 40, but if you like tough, violent, high-motor players with production, you’ll love him,” said an AFC executive. “He kind of reminds me of a young Terrell Suggs coming out of Arizona State.”

Anytime the debate of college production versus measurables (oh, plus college production) comes up, it is worth tracking. There is no definitive answer today on who will be a better NFL player between Garrett and Barnett. It will be intriguing to watch though as Browns fans are already adept at checking in on the Eagles to see if quarterback Carson Wentz has figured out how to adjust to NFL defenses yet.

A closer look at some of these scouts who pay close attention to the SEC helps reveal a bias. Stephen White did a fantastic breakdown at SBNation of all of the great things Myles Garrett does on the football field. Then, he said Derek Barnett was better anyway because of his motor and because Garrett didn’t dominate Tennessee enough even while noting he was basically playing on one leg due to an injury. I’m sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that White is a Volunteer alum.

The Booger problem
Booger McFarland fashions himself as a Skip Bayless type of talking head.2 He spent the entire draft season denigrating the game of Garrett by saying he only had good games against weak opponents (ignoring the UCLA game and several others against SEC competition he had a big affect on) and echoed any of the other talking points brought up above. So, when Garrett found out that an interview on Mike & Mike would be with McFarland, he backed out citing he didn’t want to deal with his “negativity and bias.”

Well, McFarland decided to do his Bayless routine.

“If you can’t talk to a country boy from Louisiana, how are you going to deal with Mary Kay Cabot from the Cleveland Plain Dealer when she writes an article about you that you are not living up to what you are supposed to be?” McFarland asked. “How are you going to deal with that? How are you going to deal with the national pundits saying you aren’t JJ Watt, you aren’t living up to what you are suppose to be?”

We’ll see how Garrett handles the local press once things don’t go his way, but so far he has been thoughtful and gracious during his interviews. I’m not going to fault him for not wanting to help McFarland’s content creation.

The Browns should trade the No. 1 selection (always Myles Garrett) for Jimmy Garoppolo
The Browns should take Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 1 selection
The Browns should take Deshaun Watson with the No. 1 selection

I wound up calling these rumors and viewpoints the Myles Garrett or Bust philosophy. As in, the Browns could either take Garrett at No. 1 overall or a bust. It was hyperbolic and Trubisky and Watson especially could prove to deserve their first-round selections, but there was no Andrew Luck quarterback in the NFL Draft worth taking. Further, the contention the Browns should even consider trading Garrett for an unproven backup quarterback who could not stay on the field when he was finally given a shot at playing time was ludicrous.

As it stands, Trubisky has been having rookie growing pains with the Chicago Bears as he has struggled taking snaps and making the jump to the NFL. Watson has gotten great reviews as the presumed starter with the Houston Texans. Reports on Garoppolo is that he has not been impressive in the New England Patriots camp.3

The fact remains that none of the quarterbacks earned a high enough grade during their scouting process to supplant Garrett as the No. 1 overall pick. Having DeShone Kizer fall to the Browns in Round 2 (after passing on Deshaun Watson at No. 12) helps further demonstrate that the Browns did well with their asset management.

So, let’s review:

  1. He was completely off of all social media platforms until March of 2017 when he joined Twitter to allow fans to have a peek into his life. []
  2. Amazing that someone- Bayless- has attempted to make a career out of saying that LeBron James is not a good NBA player, but here we are. []
  3. Amazing how now that the Patriots would benefit by depressing his market that media reports are that he is doing poorly. []