ENGLEWOOD — Hitting play on the YouTube video creates squirms.
Myles Garrett’s highlights vs. the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 should come with a warning label for quarterbacks and offensive linemen. He plays leverage against the run, slamming into the running back for a tackle for a loss. He strips the quarterback of the ball. And in one case, Garrett shoves the tackle into the quarterback, slamming them both to the turf.
Garrett is the Goldman of Sacks. Think prime Von Miller run through the Kinko’s copy machine at 125 percent. He is big, strong, fast, and capable of writing a diary of havoc.
The Broncos know this. In their latest, biggest game of the season, limiting Garrett’s destruction remains a priority. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 272 pounds, Garrett leads the NFL with 13 sacks.
“He’s right there. He’s playing at a high level. He’s smart, he’s talented and he has every one of those traits that you’re looking for. His get-off is fantastic. He’s battling chips and nudges and all those things. He’s having a great season. They’re playing really good defense. They’re first in the league in a lot of categories,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said. “He’s something else.”
The Browns move Garrett around, but he spends most of his time lined up on the right side. That means Mike McGlinchey needs to deliver his best game in Denver. He has proven sound in run blocking, but inconsistent in pass protection. The Broncos top free agent acquisition is embracing the matchup.
“He’s a very special player. He plays as hard as he is talented, which presents an even bigger challenge. Myles has been a special player for a long time, but he’s probably having one of his best years,” McGlinchey said. “It’s going to present a challenge upfront but one I think we are going to be ready for.”
There’s no secret to stopping Garrett. He needs to get chipped more than my windshield on I-25. Putting tight end Chris Manhertz on his side is never a bad idea. And locating him when leaving the huddle remains paramount. Still, he is a handful. He gets double teamed more than anyone in the league – 32 percent, according to ESPN metrics — and yet his pass rush win rate – the ability to get off the block in 2.5 seconds – ranks second to Cowboys star Micah Parsons at 32 percent.
What makes Garrett difficult is the overall excellence of the Browns defense. The Broncos ability to win their fifth straight game for the first time since 2015 requires clean football. Denver is plus-11 in the turnover margin over the past four contests. Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown seven touchdowns with zero interceptions during the streak. Cleveland wants a rock fight. The Browns defense ranks first in yards allowed (243.3) and passing (143.7), though top cornerback Denzel Ward (shoulder) was ruled out Friday. Their 33 sacks are sixth best.
“Good teams find a way to win. It’s next-man up mentality (regarding Ward’s absence),” Garrett said during his Friday presser in Cleveland. “It’s a matter of those guys believing it’s their moment to shine. Look at the film, we know we can get better (as a defense). We still have ways we can keep improving. There’s still another level. Everyone has to be accountable to that. … We’ve got to keep rolling until the wheels fall off.”
The Broncos counter Cleveland’s defense with 19 takeaways, second in the NFL. Denver will face a rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson making his first road start. So, things feel like they are leveled up a bit. But the margin for error remains narrow. It means finding a way to keep track of Myles is imperative on the road to victory.
“We are confident in our abilities. We have played some good football and have a lot of good players upfront,” McGlinchey said. “It’s going to be fun.”