A relatively average game between the Browns & Steelers exploded into one of the ugliest fights in recent memory. Dustin takes a quick look at some of the major storylines following the game.
The Browns beat the Steelers 21-7 in a game where the Browns finally kind of resembled the explosive offense everyone expected and the Steelers’ otherworldly defense finally couldn’t carry their team to a win.
But none of that matters. What matters is what happened with 0:08 left in the game:
As you see, a lot of bad things happened there. Which will lead us into Takeaway 1:
- How Many Games Will Myles Garrett Be Suspended?
By all accounts, Myles Garrett is a wonderful person off the field, with a penchant for posing naked for ESPN’s body issue and writing poetry. On the field however, he’s had a few questionable moments this season including; punching Titans TE Delanie Walker in the face in Week 1 and late-hitting Jets’ backup QB Trevor Siemian just a week later. This is obviously an entirely different animal. “Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off a man and then bludgeoned him with it.” is a real sentence that myself or any other writer likely never imagined they’d ever type. While multiple angles of the fight show that Rudolph certainly isn’t without culpability as far as instigating the brawl goes, Garrett will definitely face the brunt of the punishment. Former Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended 5 games for literally stomping on someone’s head and earlier this year, Vontez Burfict was suspended 12 games for his repeated violation of the NFL’s helmet hit rules. Garrett’s suspension will most likely fall in-between. Certainly his season is over and if the Browns improbably make the playoffs somehow, he’ll be watching them just like the rest of us: from the comfort of his couch at home.
- Is Maurkice Pouncey the Best Teammate Ever?
While it’s clear that multiple teammates came to QB Mason Rudolph’s defense once things got out of hand, Pouncey and G David DeCastro have a history of defending their QBs in the event of late hits. Pouncey specifically though steps right up to Garrett, taking him to the ground and throws like 7 punches and kicks at him while he’s down. After the game he mentioned that he didn’t actually remember much of the play, saying “I blacked out. I don’t even remember it, really.” He’ll probably be suspended for his role in the fight but he’s already said he’ll accept any fines or punishment the league may throw his way. Pouncey was simply protecting his teammate. This is like T.O.’s infamous “That’s my quarterback” press conference if instead of standing in front of cameras with sunglasses on and crying, T.O. simply threw hands at all of Tony Romo’s naysayers.
- Baker Mayfield Impresses On and Off the Field.
For Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield, this was his third straight game without a turnover. Though he finished with only 193 yards, he did pass for 2 TDs while running in a score to give him 3 total on the night. With the defense creating plenty of turnovers and giving him a shorter field to work with, Mayfield certainly took advantage. There were missed throws, timing issues and poor play calling still in spurts but the confidence and aggression that makes Mayfield such a tantalizing prospect was finally back after a slow start to the season. Mayfield’s decision making was sharper and his ability to extend plays with his legs allowed his receivers to find gaps in the Steelers’ resurgent defense.
Off the field, Mayfield stepped up with a shockingly blunt response when asked about the Garrett incident after the game:
It’s inexcusable. Rivalry or not, we can’t do that. That’s endangering the other team. That’s inexcusable. The reality is, he’s going to get suspended. It’s inexcusable.”Baker Mayfield speaking on the Myles Garrett/Mason Rudolph incident after the game.
There will be fans upset that Mayfield would take such a public stance opposing a teammate but the reality is, condemning the actions of Garrett, easily the Browns’ best defensive player, may help Baker establish more leadership in the locker room. He answered the questions truthfully, he held his teammate accountable for his actions and now it’s his job to go back to his other teammates and rally them to continue to build off of back-to-back wins even without one of their defensive cornerstones.
4. Mike Tomlin Should Hop a Flight to Atlanta and Sign Colin Kaepernick
Even before getting clobbered with his own helmet, Steelers’ backup QB Mason Rudolph was having a rough night. He finished with 4 INTs in the game and repeatedly failed to identify blitzes and defensive pressures from the Browns’ defense. With the Steelers still in the hunt, it’s at least worth considering taking a big swing. Former 49ers QB and current social activist Colin Kaepernick will be holding an open workout and interview sessions with any teams that wish to attend this weekend in Atlanta. After Rudolph’s performance tonight and with Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges and the Swashbuckling Paxton Lynch the only other QBs on the depth chart, it’d certainly behoove Tomlin to at least consider pulling the Kap-trigger. If Kaepernick looks even remotely as athletic and mobile as we remember him, it’s hard to argue that he could instantly add more explosiveness to a suddenly extremely pedestrian Steelers’ offense. He’d be able to provide that ability to extend the play that made him and also Roethlisberger such successful QBs earlier in their careers. Some team should take a chance and see what Kap has to offer and now more than ever, the Steelers are a prime candidate.
The Browns are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season and still, all anyone will talk about is how their players continue to shoot themselves in the feet with late hits and a lack of discipline. This should be a night that fans celebrate a one-sided win against a long-time division rival. Instead, they’ll be waiting to see what the punishment for Garrett is and how it will make an already challenging season even harder.
Dustin Brewer is a freelance writer and co-editor of HefferBrew. Follow him on Twitter here and be sure to stay tuned to HefferBrew for all the latest NFL news & notes.