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Myles Garrett Talks Browns, Beating Double Teams, And How Better Off Field Habits Help Him Dominate On It

The Cleveland Browns arrived at their bye week in Week 13 at a time when they very much needed a chance to hit the reset button. At 6-6, the Browns aren’t out of the playoff race in the muddled AFC, but with some key players banged up, an offense that needs a kickstart, and a lot of the excitement coming off last season’s playoff run gone, a week away seemed like it arrived at the right time on the banks of Lake Erie.

The best and most consistent player on the Browns this season has been, once again, Myles Garrett. The star defensive end has wrecked opposing fronts all season, piling up 14 sacks in 12 games (already a career high) to go along with 42 tackles (25 solo, 12 tackles for loss). Garrett is among the favorites to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors thanks to his production this season, and his dominance has led the way for a resurgent defensive effort from the Browns as a whole in recent weeks, keeping them afloat in the AFC playoff race.

With five games left to try and earn back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1989, Garrett and the Browns will look to finish with a flurry — Garrett says the mindset from here on out is every game is “a playoff game and we have to win out.” Garrett spoke to Uproxx this week about his partnership with Ladder supplements and how he’s found more consistency thanks to a better nutrition plan, the Browns defense starting to play up to their potential, the mentality he has to have to take on double teams constantly, and the focus of the team on the bye week in getting ready for the stretch run.

How would you describe this season so far for you and for the team?

I mean, we’ve had some ups and downs. At the end of the day we’re just trying to find some consistency overall. And it’s been tough at times, but I like seeing some of the growth in locker room as far as guys maturing and finding themselves and just trying to be better people, better men. That kind of growth helps on the field as far as chemistry and becoming who we want to be.

As a defensive unit, you guys have seemed the last six weeks or so to start to get some of that performance back from where you were when you were at your best a year ago. What have you felt has been the biggest area of growth for this defense as a whole as you start to get healthy and started to see some some of these results coming on that side of the ball?

We’re starting to take away the ball at a higher clip right now. So that’s been big for us, trying to swing the turnover margin in our favor. And just being better on third down. We were low and we’re trying to work on that and trying to get their offense off the field, get ours back on there and get some points scored. Right now we need to start scoring on points on defense.

What’s been the focus on this bye week, getting ready for a big game with the the Ravens on Sunday, and just kind of having this week to reset and get ready for the late push here?

Well, it’s just as you said, just resetting, getting healthy, getting the mind right. And we have five more games and everything’s up in the air right now in the AFC. So we still have a chance. We don’t need to doubt ourselves away about what happened before. We’re 6-6, might as well be 0-0. Next games are playoff games and we got to win out.

Having that experience from last year of making a push to the playoffs and knowing what it takes. What do you think as a team you guys are able to pull from that and kind of lean on a little bit of experience here as you get ready for the last five weeks?

Just got to keep on grinding. I know some of these guys have been through it, whether it’s been on another team or on this team. It doesn’t make any difference when you’re out there. You got to go out there, make big plays, and the experience helps especially the D-line room, some of the older guys. Me, JD [Clowney], Malik [McDowell], and just trying to show these guys that we’re one play away, no matter who makes it. So someone’s got to step up whether it’s me, MJ [Malik Jackson], McDowell, one of the guys in the backend, like they stepped up big last game. We need to put some more points on the board, you know, house one of those picks but we know we have what it takes to get it done. Now we had to put it all together efficiently and consistently.

For yourself, I do a lot of NBA stuff and talking with guys like Damian Lillard, they talk about how once you get to a certain point, it’s about self scouting and being willing to put the work in in the offseason to know yourself and know how teams are going to attack you. And then, you learn how to counter that knowing what teams want to do to you and how you can start beating that. What has been the work that you’ve put in during the offseason to get to this point where you know teams are going to come with doubles, teams are going to come with help, but still being able to make that impact on the field with your production?

Just trying to work on being able to take on those double teams. Expecting them. Knowing how to counter them. Really, it becomes a mental game. Physically, I don’t feel like I’ve peaked, but I feel like I’m getting better each each year and each day. But mentally, how do I know maintain focus? How do I make sure I give myself the best chance to beat the double team without giving the quarterback an escape lane? Working on games with my teammates to try to get them free if I’m getting double teamed, because I don’t always have to be the guy to make the player. If they’re focusing so much on me, they might let him get free and make the play. So just not trying to be just a stat guy, trying to be a team player and allow us to flourish and make the play regardless if I’m in on it or not.

You mentioned continuing to work to where you think you can get to your physical peak and a lot of that comes with the training and the nutrition off the field. How did this partnership with Ladder come about and why were they something that you felt aligned with what you are trying to do?

I feel like sports nutrition was kind of something that I’ve been lacking on, and I wanted to take the next step as far as what I was putting in my body and just trying to get the most out of myself. I need to put in quality fuel if I’m going to get the high quality performance I’m expecting on the field consistently. I know sometimes I walked into games, I just didn’t feel well just because of how I ate or what I drink before games. And I just wanted to find something or someone such as Ladder that would give me a foundation to rely on so that I felt like I could walk into every game confident knowing that I not only put the work in, but I put the fuel in that’ll get me through the game and I’ll feel correct.

How has your nutrition routine or intake changed over the years? Because that’s something that a lot of guys have to make adjustments to as they get into to being a pro because how your body reacts to food changes, and also, you know you’re going up against guys who have personal chefs who have these routines in a different way than than college. What were the lessons that you learned early in your career that got you to this point where you say, “this is something that I need to continue to take seriously if I’m going to go to the next step”?

Like you said, some of the really good ones and the great ones are taking their nutrition very seriously. They have their own chefs. They’re putting the work in beside you, so how can you take the next step past them. So I had to learn to be better with my food intake, eating my colors, trying to make sure I get protein — and I wasn’t a big protein guy. I felt like if I tossed protein in, if it wasn’t for like a smoothie, then I was like cheating myself. I wasn’t been really doing that, more of how the guys of old used to do it. I felt like they just went out there and just played. It was just natural.

So, I just had to get over that hurdle with myself. Find the next step, because everyone’s trying to find the next step and I can’t be lagging behind because I have this idea of who my idols were back in the day. So, just trying to find ways with eating some of the Ladder products that they had, or using them in my meals or my drinks, the superfood greens and whey protein. But using that in my diet to try to get me to the next level, because everyone’s trying to find that next step, but finding it consistently and also having a chef who was being always on his toes and putting in quality meals. I think I might have the best chef in Ohio with the quality meals that he provides, morning and night. So those things coupled together with Ladder and him, I think they’ve really helped me take my game to the next level one, and hopefully in the future, it stays like that.