Joe Woods believes Myles Garrett in right mindset following reinstatement

Browns DC says Garrett taking leadership role, will learn from suspension

Daryl Ruiter
May 28, 2020 - 1:37 pm
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – It didn’t take long for Myles Garrett to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with on the field.

It may take even longer for Garrett to restore his reputation following one of the ugliest incidents the NFL has seen on the field in years last November.

Garrett put defensive player of the year atop his personal to-do list since being selected No. 1 overall in 2016 and he appeared on his way to putting himself in the conversation last year before serving what ended up being a six-game suspension without pay for removing the helmet of Mason Rudolph and hitting the Steelers quarterback in the head with it during the closing seconds of a 21-7 win on national television.

“Right now, I think he is in a good place,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said Thursday morning in a Zoom call with reporters. “I think as a young player in this league, you go through a lot of different things so I definitely think he is going to learn and grow from the situation that happened last year.”

The suspension, which was the longest ever handed down to a player for an on-field incident, cost Garrett an additional $1.14 million in pay on top of a $45,623 fine. A total of 33 players, including Garrett and the Browns and Steelers franchises, were fined over $732,000 combined for the melee that ensued after Garrett struck Rudolph.  

Garrett, who later accused Rudolph of uttering a racial slur which prompted his reaction, was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Feb. 12.

Woods isn’t focused on what happened last November. His attention and energy are pointed towards helping Garrett not only return to be the player he already was but helping him elevate his game further.

“I think Myles has the right mindset in terms of wanting to be MVP and all of that, but we just need him to be the best player for us that he can be, and whatever happens, happens,” Woods said.

Garrett’s 30.5 sacks in 37 games played are the most by a Brown in his first three seasons. He racked up 10.0 sacks in 10 games in 2019 prior to his ban.

Following his reinstatement, Garrett traveled to Tanzania, Africa where he worked with Waterboys, an organization founded by former NFL defensive end Chris Long dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to impoverished portions of East Africa.

Garrett called the trip “a blessing.”

This offseason Woods hasn’t been able to spend much time with Garrett or the rest of his defense. Interactions have been limited to video conference calls, but Woods has liked what he’s seen from Garrett.

“We really have not talked about it after he got back and after he was reinstated,” Woods said. “He is focused on getting better. He is focused on being a good teammate. He has been in the meetings. He is trying to step up and take more of a leadership role. I definitely think he is moving in the right direction and has the right mindset.”

This offseason the Browns added more depth to the defensive line to hep Garrett with the signing of Adrian Clayborn and Andrew Billings.

They also drafted Jordan Elliott in the third round, 88th overall.

“I feel really good [about our depth],” Woods said. “I have been part of teams, going back to Denver and San Francisco, where everything started up front. With the guys that we have on our defense right now, I feel like we can really do some things in the run game and in the pass game with the guys that we currently have.”

In San Francisco, Woods saw firsthand the damage a prolific defensive line can do.

Nick Bosa, D.J. Jones, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead combined for 29.5 sacks and seven fumble recoveries to help carry the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Woods not only hopes Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Olivier Vernon can replicate that level of impact playmaking in Cleveland, but they learn from the 49ers and use it as a blueprint for success.

“I think what they learned in San Francisco, and I think the guys here will learn, is that if you all work together, everybody is going to eat,” Woods said. “That is what you want. You do not want anybody going hungry, right? You want everybody to eat. I think once the guys realize as we start working together, what we are going to do within our scheme and how coach [defensive line coach Chris] Kiffin is teaching them, they are all going to have an opportunity to make plays.”