With all due respect to Josh McCown, the biggest return in Sunday’s game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns is undoubtedly the return of Cleveland’s No. 1 pick Myles Garrett from injury.
Garrett announced his highly anticipated return from a preseason ankle injury in a one-word tweet: “Regresé,” which translates to “I am back” in Spanish.
The 21-year-old has yet to play in the regular season, but was effective in brief stints during the preseason. The former Texas A&M star played in three games and recorded three tackles and a sack.
While he may still be on a “pitch count” according to Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson, he will still demand attention from the Jets’ offense.
“He’s a force and we’re going to have to make sure we take care of him and not let him ruin the game,” said offensive coordinator John Morton.
Those offensive linemen tasked with stopping Garrett could include tackles Brandon Shell and Kelvin Beachum.
Shell, who missed the Jets’ Week 4 victory over Jacksonville, was a full participant in Thursday’s practice session and all signs point to him starting on Sunday. Beachum is the top-graded Jets offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus.
Yet for all the talk around Garrett, Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles made sure to note that it’s not an anomaly in a league loaded with talented pass rushers.
“You’re going to face a great pass rusher every week in this league,” Bowles said. “[Garrett] coming back is a great boost for them. We just have to play our game and try to slow him down as much as we can.”
The Jets have faced a few dominant pass rushers so far in 2017 and have done a relatively good job. They did allow Oakland’s Khalil Mack to record a sack (he has had at least one sack in three of his four games), but they protected McCown from the dynamic Jaguars duo of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, which was held without a sack.
The other part of the gameplan will fall on quarterback Josh McCown. Although the 38-year-old journeyman has been solid to begin his New York career, he may have to adjust some things this Sunday.
“When you have a guy like him who can hold the edge down like he does and rush the passer, you’ve got to get the ball out of your hand,” McCown said. “You’ve got to make sure you have different people on him to slow him down.”
It will be a team effort to slow down one of the most exciting young players in the NFL in his regular season debut.