AKRON — Myles Garrett is a complex man.
He wants his pass-rush repertoire to match.
Garrett reiterated Tuesday that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams restricted him to two pass-rush moves last year.
To make matters worse, Williams picked them for the defensive end.
“We all kind of tried to press him to allow us some more freedom in the pass rush, but he had a system, and you’ve got to buy into the system,” Garrett said at Ellet High School after a groundbreaking ceremony for a new turf provided by the Browns.
The No. 1 pick of the 2017 draft still made his first Pro Bowl and compiled 13.5 sacks in 2018 but believes he was capable of many more if he’d been allowed a more varied arsenal.
“I don’t want to put a number on that, but I feel like I’d have more,” Garrett said. “So that’s what I’m looking to show this year.”
He fell a half-sack shy of tying the franchise record of 14 set by Reggie Camp in 1984.
“I should have breezed by that,” he said. “Things happen. So I’ll make sure I crush that this year.”
That was as specific as Garrett would get on his sack goal for 2019 — he said he’ll tell reporters after the season if he meets it — but for a guy who’s said he wants to be the best to ever play the game, he acknowledged it’s “still pretty lofty.” He expects new coordinator Steve Wilks to give him the on-field freedom he craved under Williams, who finished last season as the interim coach.
“Absolutely. He’s seen what I can do with just those limited amount of moves, as he pointed out to me,” said Garrett, who had seven sacks in 11 games as a rookie. “So I think I’ll be able to surprise him this year.”
He first mentioned the two-move rule in a Bleacher Report article earlier this month, bemoaning the predictability and saying “speed chop and power move aren’t always going to work.” He added players need to be able to spin inside and stutter-step to keep the offensive linemen off-balance.
He wouldn’t answer when asked Tuesday to list his two best moves.
“If I tell you that, (Taylor) Lewan’s going to be all over that,” he said, referring to the Titans left tackle, his Week 1 matchup.
Garrett said Wilks and coach Freddie Kitchens didn’t reprimand him for his comments about Williams.
“They just tell me to go win, don’t disrupt the balance of the rush and go win, however that is, playing the scheme of the defense,” he said. “They joked with me about it that next day but they want the best for me, they want me to go out there and be the best player I can be.”
Garrett isn’t a cookie-cutter NFL player. He writes poetry, loves dinosaurs, dressed up as “Khal Drogo” from “Game of Thrones” for the series finale Sunday night and listens to oldies.
He didn’t see eye to eye with Williams.
“Some would say that you have to perfect the moves that you’ve got, but once you throw a left and a straight at me so many times, I think I’m going to be able to move out the way,” he said, offering a boxing analogy.
General manager John Dorsey made it a top goal of the offseason to surround Garrett with more talent on the front four. He signed free agent tackle Sheldon Richardson and traded for Pro Bowl end Olivier Vernon.
“He’s probably the most relaxed person I’ve ever met besides me,” Garrett said of Vernon. “He doesn’t show any emotion, he’ll come off the edge, all of a sudden he’ll hit a move on you and it’s just like he wasn’t there. He’s really calm, collected, he’s a veteran. He acts like he’s been through it, he’s never surprised by anything, and that’s good to see.”
Garrett was a vocal supporter of former left end Emmanuel Ogbah, who was traded to the Chiefs for backup safety Eric Murray after Vernon was acquired from the Giants. Not only did Ogbah have only three sacks in 14 games last season, he had just one more year of experience than Garrett.
Vernon has been in the NFL for seven seasons, so for the first time Garrett has a true veteran to help take the pressure off on Sundays and teach him during the week.
“I think it’ll be good,” Garrett said. “He’s been in this league for a while now, he’s played with some of the best, so he’s picked up a couple things along the way, so I’m hoping that he’ll be willing to share some knowledge.”