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Myles Garrett moves past DPOY, only has eyes for Super Bowl

BEREA — The question was about what he has in store this season as he returns as NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the first time.

Myles Garrett turned me into we.

“God willing, building the success that we had last year,” he said Wednesday after the second of three mandatory minicamp practices. “Have everyone be healthy and go win the Super Bowl. That’s where my eyes are only.”

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Garrett achieved one of his longtime personal goals with the DPOY selection. He moved on quickly.

“It’ll never be enough,” he said. “I might feel a little bit of satisfaction once we win one for Cleveland, but then it’s always the next year.

“Not going to stop until the body tells me it’s time to hang them up, until I stop having fun, until I stop loving this game and wanting to be in here with my teammates. Until that stage, I’m going to be in here giving my all and just trying to do my best to improve this team.”

Garrett, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, has already established himself as one of the best defensive players in Browns history and of this generation in the NFL. The end is a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, has a franchise-record 88.5 sacks in 100 games and is on a fast track to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With the Browns coming off their second playoff appearance in four years and bringing back nearly all of their key players with some notable additions, the focus is squarely on trying to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Garrett was asked how important a championship is to his legacy.

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“Don’t care about legacy,” he said. “I want it for the city. I want it for those guys in (the locker room). My legacy, it’ll speak for itself once it’s said and done. I want it for those guys because they deserve it. They go out there every single day and earn it by working hard, by putting in the time, getting up early, leaving late.

“It takes those kind of leaders every single day to really see that what we’re doing is special and we want to show that we can sustain this for an entire year and build something special.”

Garrett, 28, took home DPOY on the strength of a dominant start, the team’s success and being the best player on the league’s top-ranked defense. It ranked first in yards allowed (270.2 per game), yards passing (164.7), first downs (14.9) and third-down conversion rate (29.1 percent) and sixth in sacks (49).

The Browns changed defensive line coaches in the offseason, moving on from Ben Bloom and hiring Jacques Cesaire from the Texans. Cesaire was asked recently what he expects from Garrett, who had 14 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, 42 tackles, 17 for loss, three passes defensed and a fumble recovery in 2023.

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“A lot more. And Myles knows that,” he said. “Myles is the type of person that he wants to be great. He’s not just resting on his laurels and what he did last year, he understands that he’s working.

“Obviously when you lose in the playoffs, you don’t feel great about it. And so he has things that he needs to work on.”

Garrett completely agreed and described how that will look.

“More of everything. Just more,” he said. “More leadership, more plays, being more vocal, being more inspired, whatever I can do. Being more attentive, allowing a room full of guys to be themselves. We want more personality, we want more culture.

“There’s so much more we can build on because we left so many plays out there, myself included.”

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Garrett, coaches and teammates don’t have to look far for motivation. The exciting and surprising season — Nick Chubb was lost for the season in Week 2, Deshaun Watson in Week 10 and Joe Flacco came off the couch to rescue the offense — ended in shock and embarrassment with a 45-14 loss in Houston in the wild card round.

“It’s definitely at the forefront of my mind always,” Garrett said. “I plan to make that apparent to everyone and continue to keep it as motivation for myself that we stepped out, we didn’t get the job done, we didn’t execute and we fell short of our goals. We didn’t complete the mission.

“So we have to lock back in. We have to circle the wagons and figure out how we can get better. The first thing we can do is get out here and know exactly what to do in every situation. Be perfect in your p’s and q’s.”

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The criticism of Garrett even in his DPOY performance was a drastic drop-off in production at the end of the year. Thirteen of his 14 sacks and all four forced fumbles came in the first 10 games and he went without a sack in the playoff loss. He was productive at the end of the 2022 season — 8.5 sacks in the final eight games — but had only one sack over the final four games in 2021 and acknowledged he’s trying to increase his endurance to overcome the consistent attention from the offense.

“You’re always trying to finish as strong as you start or even stronger, and it’s made a point of emphasis through the second half of the season to double or to show more towards me, and that’s when I have to dig deeper,” he said. “I’ve got to find something more in my bag, improve my fitness so I continue to try those different moves to break those double teams, to slide through and to move to different positions on the front.”

Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward said the defense looks to Garrett for inspiration, leadership and playmaking.

“Oh, man, we feed off, we expect Myles to be Myles,” he said. “He comes out, he does that every single day. Rushing the passer, getting to that quarterback and just causing havoc for us in that backfield.

“He’s a Hall of Fame-type player and I know he’s working towards that, striving towards that every day. We’re just trying to chase him and continue to be great right along with him.”

Garrett, who skipped the voluntary organized team activities to work out on his own, continues to have a jaw-dropping physique. He said he’s always stayed ready physically but has grown from a mental aspect.

“It’s about you always set an example on and off the field,” he said. “That wasn’t always my forte, especially vocally, and now I think that’s helped become more part of the person that I am. It took some leadership from other guys who have done it, whether it was from this sport, this team, or from others where I could take inspiration from. They’ve really helped round me out as a person and as a player.”

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Entering his eighth season, Garrett still considers himself a “young guy on this team.” Pro Bowl tight end David Njoku was selected 28 picks later in the same year and is aligned with Garrett on their goals.

“We didn’t come this far just to come this far, we came this far with a purpose and we know what the purpose is and we are doing our best to obtain that purpose,” he said.

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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