Myles Garrett's meltdown raises questions about his future. (CNN.com)
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from the Myles Garrett meltdown and indefinite suspension through the 2019 season …
1.Some of the nitpicks about Myles Garrett coming out of college were whether he was “too nice a guy” to be a mean NFL pass rusher and if he loved the game enough to play football for the long haul. Some wondered if other academic interests would lead him away from the game early. Garrett enjoys writing poetry in his spare time and aspires to paleontology, the study of fossils. Garrett is so mild-mannered off the field that he turned the other cheek when a fake autograph-seeker approached him in his parked car during the bye week, feigned a request for a selfie and sucker-punched him in the face. If you would rank the Browns from 1 to 53 as “most likely” to use a helmet as a weapon against an opponent, Garrett might rank 50 or lower. So it’s reasonable to question now what this horrifying, out-of-character incident might do to his resolve as a professional quarterback hunter. You wonder whether during Garrett’s season-ending suspension he may reconsider his football future.
2.Garrett’s state of mind about his long-term playing future comes into play because he becomes eligible for a new contract after this, his third NFL season. The Browns aren’t under obligation to negotiate Garrett’s second contract for another year. His rookie deal is up after 2021, assuming the Browns pick up his fifth-year option before the deadline next May. But if Garrett is in the Browns’ long-term plans, the club would expect to at least discuss a new deal sooner than later because the price-tag only increases over time. Currently, the highest-paid lineman is DeMarcus Lawrence of Dallas at $105 million over five years, or $21 million per year. According to Spotrac.com, Garrett’s suspension over the final six games of this season will cost him $1,139,912.
3.Mike Pereira, the former head of NFL officials, was at the game in Cleveland as a FOX analyst. Pereira speculated that the league determined Garrett’s suspension through the 2019 post-season based on his history of two personal fouls this season (totaling $52,639 in fines) and the most comparable incident of a “non-football act." In a 2006 game, Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games for stomping on the unprotected head of Dallas' Andre Gurode. Garrett will have to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell before he can be reinstated for 2020. “If [Goodell] is not satisfied and Myles says I’m not going to change the way I play, then I think this could rival something near a 12-game suspension in the end,” Pereira said on 850 ESPN Cleveland.
4.Pereira said it’s unfortunate that Garrett will forever be linked in the same sentence with Vontaze Burfict, a notorious rules violator currently serving a 12-game suspension, and Haynesworth, whose case Pereira was involved in. “That sickened me,” Pereira said. “I flew [Thursday] night from Cleveland to Dallas and I woke up this morning and I was still depressed about it. People say why are you depressed about it? It’s my game that I’ve been involved with since 1971. That’s a stain to my game. It really does bother me and I think it’s going to bother me for quite some time. I just hate what last night did.”
5.Former Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley said on Sirius XM Radio that the Browns’ lack of control and discipline can only be blamed on coach Freddie Kitchens. “There’s an old saying in coaching, ‘You’re either coaching it or you’re allowing it to happen,’” Haley said.
6.Haley was the man who recruited Kitchens to Cleveland to join Hue Jackson’s staff as running backs coach in 2018. Haley and Kitchens worked together with the Arizona Cardinals, Haley as coordinator and Kitchens as tight ends coach. Haley said, “When I watch the Cleveland Browns, I see a lot of stuff being allowed to happen, whether it’s clown shoes, visors, whatever it may be, Myles Garrett hitting the quarterback low, hitting the quarterback in the head, it’s happening too much. It’s not just a fluke. I’ve been on those fields in Cleveland. Part of the frustration is, you see things happening and going on that shouldn’t be allowed to go on because you’re practicing bad habits, you’re practicing lack of discipline, you’re practicing lack of self-control. That’s what practice is for – to continue to press the players of how they need to play and practice, showing up on time, all those little things that add up to discipline are what needs to be going on full time. Because if you’re not coaching it, you’re allowing it to happen.” Kitchens declined to respond to Haley’s comments on Friday.
7.Kitchens was irritated when it was suggested after the game that Kitchens’ attitude during the joint workouts with the Indianapolis Colts this summer contributed to the Browns’ lack of discipline. They lead the NFL with 112 penalties called and have had four players ejected in games. “I never OK’d fights,” Kitchens fumed. “Did I want them to get after their ass? Yes, I did, but that is not fighting. That is not after the whistle. Between the whistles, yes. I never condone fighting on the football field because that is penalties.”
8.In the joint workouts in Westfield, IN, in August, Kitchens was not happy with the team’s tempo on the first day of practice. Afterwards, he challenged the team to be more physical and not back down from the Colts, and on the second day there were four one-on-one skirmishes and two bench-clearing brawls. “We came here to impose our will the same way we do in the regular season when it comes up,” said receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who did not participate. “We are not backing down from anybody, and I love that mentality. That is all I have ever known. Like I said, you do not want [fights] to happen, but it happens sometimes.” Kitchens was pleased with the second day. “The tempo was more like I like it today than it was yesterday,” he said then. “I think we identified a problem yesterday, not that there was anything wrong with the tempo, but we set the tempo. Nobody else does. I think these guys learned that today. We just have a way that we are going to treat our practices. That is how we are going to practice. That doesn’t ever change. It doesn’t matter who we are going against. It doesn’t matter if we are going against ourselves. I think we learned a lot about ourselves from the standpoint of that’s how you have to approach it. You keep your tempo. Let everybody else adjust to yours, not the other way around.” Kitchens also said, “We are not going to take anything from anybody, either.”