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Myles Garrett in ‘sweet spot’ of career, plans to keep pushing his peak higher and higher

BEREA — Myles Garrett won’t turn 28 until the end of December but is already in his seventh NFL season and has played 92 games. Defensive line coach Ben Bloom called it a “sweet spot” in what’s looking more and more like a Hall of Fame career.

“He’s still young, relatively, and then he’s got all this experience and he’s accomplished so much statistically that you can tell what’s important to him right now is helping the team win,” Bloom said Friday. “A lot of the time it’s him making tackles and sacking the quarterback so he’s killing two birds with one stone there, but at other times he’s doing a lot of selfless stuff on the field, too.”

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Garrett is a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro who set a Browns record with 16 sacks in 2021 and matched it last year. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader with 84.

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He’s playing better than ever as the Browns (5-3) head to Baltimore (7-2) on Sunday for an AFC North showdown.

He’s tied for second in the NFL with 9.5 sacks and has added 18 quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, a league-high four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed, creating numerous opportunities for the rest of the defense. He’s the best player on the league’s top-ranked defense and is a popular choice as Defensive Player of the Year in media outlets’ midseason awards.

Dual threat: Browns defense charged with stopping Lamar Jackson, keeping up with Ravens’ stingy defense

“I think I’m nearing my prime, the peak of my powers,” Garrett said on “The Pat McAfee Show” this week. “Matching that experience and that wisdom with my athletic ability.”

Garrett said he expects his peak to continue to climb.

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“I plan to finish like Randy Johnson,” he said Friday, referring to the Hall of Fame pitcher. “So we’re just going to keep on going up until we retire.”

Coach Kevin Stefanski endorses that mindset.

“I like to think it’s impossible to hit your potential, so you just continue to try and chase it and I think that’s what he’s doing,” he said.

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Garrett shared the credit with those around him.

“I have a great team that helps take care of my body and also works with me mentally in improving how I can always improve my game, how I can take it to the next level, achieving goals, challenging myself. And I have a great football team around me that allows me to play my instinctive brand of ball and we feed off of each other.”

He was inspired by LeBron James’ longevity of excellence and said James’ inner circle helped him put together his team. In addition to the “major influence” of James, Garrett mentioned soccer players Renaldo and Lionel Messi and quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as examples of sustained greatness.

“All those guys doing it for such a long time, at a high competitive level also were influences to me to get a step ahead, be proactive about my health and wellness and take care of those things before they become a problem,” he said.

Garrett’s been nothing but a problem for opposing offenses. Despite being consistently double- and triple-teamed, he continues to either get to the quarterback or affect him. Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who held the same role with the Browns in 2019, was asked about game-planning for Garrett.

“It’s awful. It absolutely stinks.” Monken told reporters in Baltimore. “He’s got such natural ability and he’s worked awfully hard to really drill down his pass rush moves, and he’s relentless. He can wreck the game.

“He’s a tremendous young man. He’s a hard worker, a great kid, but it stinks (to play against him). You’d prefer he’s out.”

Garrett will be a giant factor in the attempt to slow down quarterback Lamar Jackson and the rest of the Ravens offense, which has averaged 32.5 points during a four-game winning streak. Jackson is 7-1 against the Browns in games he started and finished with 13 touchdown passes, six interceptions, a 100.0 passer rating, 597 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Garrett is 4-7 against the Ravens with seven sacks — four of Jackson in eight meetings — and his lone career touchdown. He thinks he and Jackson are on similar career paths.

“The man only continues to gather experience and wisdom and learn how to refine his game, which makes him more dangerous every time you play him, Garrett said. “He’s only continuing to get better mentally because physically he can make every throw on the field and he’s as quick and dynamic as they come.

“I learned that he’s never satisfied. That’s why he continues to improve every time we face him.”

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Despite the love and the acknowledgement that a play’s never dead when Jackson has the ball, Garrett told Kay Adams this week he’d give the edge to Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow.

“Burrow’s gone farther,” Garrett said Friday. “He’s produced at a higher level at this point in his career, even though Lamar has an MVP and he’s more dynamic in what he does, but I think the results that Burrow has come up with speak for themselves. Not saying that that can’t change any given day, but I give Burrow the nod for what he’s been able to accomplish.”

Garrett isn’t worried about the timing of the comments.

“I got plenty of respect for Lamar,” he said. “And whether you respect the guy or you gotta play him today or the next day, you still got to suit up and he’s still got to make plays and so do I. Go out there and have fun regardless of what’s being said or not.”

The Browns need a clutch performance from the defense, and that starts with Garrett.

“He shows up big all the time,” Schwartz said. “In big games like this, you need your big players to come up big and Myles will be ready for that.”

The Browns allowed the Ravens to rush for 131 yards Oct. 1 in a 28-3 loss, but Garrett was adamant Baltimore isn’t going to duplicate the 298 rushing yards from Sunday in a win over the Seahawks.

“Ain’t happening with us,” he said.

With a half-sack, Garrett will reach double digits for the sixth straight season, becoming only the seventh person to do that since the sack became an official stat in 1982. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson said Garrett’s work ethic stands out.

“He’s a guy who comes in and goes crazy every day,” Tomlinson said. “He always tries to get better every single day, every practice, every game. Might see a new pass rush every time he goes out there, it’s crazy.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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