Cleveland‘s star defensive end said his failure to communicate led to coach Kevin Stefanski sitting him for the start of last week’s game, a decision the Pro Bowler said he respects. He also vowed not to let it happen again.
Garrett was kept off the field for the first three plays on Dec. 24 against New Orleans — the coldest regular-season game in Browns history — after Stefanski punished him for “a team thing.”
Garrett had missed two practices last week leading up to the game with an unspecified illness.
On Friday, Garrett clarified the reason he was on the sideline for the first series against the Saints, who beat the Browns 17-10.
“That was coach’s decision based off of what happened during the week and I respect his decision,” Garrett said. “I was sick and I didn’t communicate well enough.”
Garrett acknowledged that the optics of the situation aren’t ideal for anyone, never mind a team captain, leader and one of the NFL’s best defensive players.
“It’s just a bad look for a starter just in general,” he said after the Browns wrapped up preparations to face the Washington Commanders on Sunday. “So just don’t put myself in that situation again.”
Garrett was asked if he was disappointed in himself.
“I think it was a misunderstanding at the end of the day,” he said. “But I mean that’s how it went down and got to respect how he feels about the situation and his judgment.”
Stefanski was asked Friday if there was any residual effect from Garrett’s discipline.
“No,” he said. “He has done a nice job. Been good.”
Garrett said he’s moved on: “Yeah, that’s behind us. … Nobody’s in here worried about it.”
It’s been an interesting season for Garrett, who has 13 1/2 sacks with two games left.
In September, he escaped serious injury when he flipped his Porsche while speeding on a rural road near his home. Garrett sustained a sprained left shoulder, strained right biceps, broken eye blood vessel and facial lacerations when he veered off the road; a female passenger suffered minor injuries.
It was one of several low points this season for the Browns (6-9), who missed the playoffs for the second straight year despite high expectations.
“It’s a frustrating thing,” he said. “Visibly frustrated, get home and just that kind of energy you’ve brought throughout the season, you have to try to hold onto that. Energy, it’s got to move. It’s got to be in an environment or at leaves. It continues to move and display itself in different manners.
“But know when you lose like that and then you feel like you have a disappointing season, you missed the playoffs, when you feel like you should’ve made it or you should’ve done better — that’s when you move the energy in the building, lose the positivity and things start to go into disarray.”
There will be personnel and perhaps coaching changes in the offseason, but Garrett remains confident the Browns aren’t far from success.
“We’re trying to figure it out all together and right now we don’t really have the recipe to get wins consistently as we’d like,” he said. “But I think most of the pieces are here and we just have to tight a couple of screws.”