Time for NFL to act; Browns must be punished harshly for conduct against Steelers
The Cleveland Browns won on Thursday Night Football and they did so with a healthy margin. The Browns now are 4-6 with a two-game winning streak and have an easy-ish schedule ahead them as they try and make an unprobable appearance in the playoffs. Unfortunately that's where the good news ends for Cleveland.
The secondary is absolutely decimated and there are surely multiple fines that will follow in the aftermath of their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's take a look at them in the order in which they happened (yes, we've saved the worst for the last).
Safety Morgan Burnett was ruled out of the game against Pittsburgh with a Achilles injury and is possibly facing a fine for initiating contact with his head against Pittsburgh's No.1 receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. As you can see below, Greedy Williams was late too and it wouldn't be a surprise if the league fined both players for the hit.
The Browns have led the league in accepted penalties for a while and this hit only added to it. Now, most people might think that there's very little that either of the defensive backs can do to avoid Juju once the catch is made. But do they really need to go in with their helmets? Juju immidiately fell to the ground and was later ruled out with a concussion. This also brought up the question of discipline among these Browns.
If anyone thought a single hit shouldn't define what was an overall good game for Steve Wilks' defence, Damarious Randall cleared up all doubts. Once again, the Browns safety was late on Dionte Johnson and went in with his helmet. Randall was ejected from the game upon a review from New York. Could this hit have been avoided? You be the judge.
The Steelers wideout was seen bleeding from his ear in the aftermath of the hit and was carted into the locker room. Randall is very likely to be fined and will most probably be monitered very closely by the league in the aftermath as they try to weed out such actions.
This hit once again threatened to overshadow what was an amazing performance by this healthy again Browns defense and their linebacker Joe Schobert. The Browns had managed to neutralize the Steelers ground game and corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams were doing pretty well in man coverage, but once again their lack of discipline was helping the Steelers. On the Steelers only touchdown drive of the game, Cleveland had three penalties, including the aforementioned hit by Randall, that cost them 58 yards.
Hpwever, the Browns somehow managed to hold their nerve and close out the game on a wonderful dart by QB Baker Mayfield to TE Stephen Carlson. Then came the madness. Let's analyze it step by step.
Myles Garrett, Cleveland star edge rusher, managed to get through to Steelers QB Mason Rudolph, as he had all night, in garbage time. Garrett, looking for a sack that he had deserved for his contributions throughout the night, went in hard on Rudolph and threw the Steelers backup to the ground. Rudolph took exception to this and replays show that he either tried to free his hand from Garrett or went for his headgear.
What followed was absolute carnage. We'll let the videos do the talking.
There's not many words that can describe that. In the aftermath of the incident, the Steelers offensive line took umbrage and went after Garrett. Center Maurkice Pouncey can be seen kicking and punching Garrett.
While this was going on, presumably to back up this embattled Defensive End, Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi decided he wanted a piece of Rudolph too.
Argue what you will about Rudolph's attempt when he was down, Garrett should be done for the season and most likely the playoffs too. In an era where health of the players has taken priority, as it should be, the NFL is most likely going to make an example of Garrett to ensure that no one else has the nerve to try something like this.
This isn't even Garrett's first offence. Remember the game against the Titans where he punched TE Delaine Walker after the whistle? Or the late hit to Jets backup Trevor Siemian?
Yes, Myles Garrett has been there done that, on several occasions. This conduct is inexcusable and the league must take decisive action. That combined with the other two hits to the helmet, which knocked two Steelers receivers out, mean that the league should take a broader look at the Browns defense overall.
Sure, they were fired up. Sure, they were playing for their season. Sure, the game against Pittsburgh means a lot to the Browns. But their conduct was downright awful. It's time for the NFL to step up and take action and ensure that discipline is maintained.