When the Browns landed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in free agency, they got a player to upgrade their edge defense — both against the pass and the run.
Cleveland already had Myles Garrett, who was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate before a bout with COVID-19 derailed the second half of his 2020 season. And Garrett is still one of the most dynamic edge rushers the league has, signing a five-year, $125 million extension with the Browns last summer.
But as excited as Clowney is to pair with Garrett, he’s learned after seven seasons that there’s more to a good pass rush than the edge defenders.
“You know I always thought it was about the two ends. I always said, you’ve got to have someone on the opposite of you to be great. But I always think now the last couple years, you need somebody beside you to be great,” Clowney said in his Wednesday press conference. “The D-tackles make a big presence in the National Football League because you can have guys who can run the hump, run the circle. But if you don’t have a middle presence, it ain’t gonna do nothing. You can step up and make the pass anyway. So it’s not just me and Myles, it’s going to be about those guys in the middle that bring that presence every day.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can push the pocket. I think as a unit, I think it’s like working together — not just two people.”
Having said that, Clowney is still enjoying seeing Garrett work on a day-to-day basis and thinks he’s primed for a big year.
“Of course I’m watching him. I want to watch the guy that’s one of the highest-paid players in the league,” Clowney said with a chuckle. “I think what stands out the most about Myles is he works hard, for one. And his bend, the way he bends and stays low the whole time — he’s got some crazy bend moves. And I told him, you have two moves and you use them very, very well and it’s basically unstoppable.
“So good luck for the tackles out there stopping that dude this year. I’m just happy to be on his team, playing beside him because I think it’s going to help me out this year.”
Garrett recorded 12.0 sacks in 14 games last year, also coming away with 10 tackles for loss, 18 QB hits, four forced fumbles, and a pair of passes defensed. He has 42.5 sacks in four seasons since Cleveland drafted him No. 1 overall out of Texas A&M.