Week 11 started with a bang, didn’t it? The Cleveland Browns took down the Pittsburgh Steelers in a relatively dull game in front of a good crowd at FirstEnergy Stadium, but the game isn’t what we are here to talk about, is it?
Rudolph, upon completing a meaningless 11-yard dump off to Trey Edmunds, gets hit hard by Garrett, and what follows beggar’s belief.
The two tussle a little on the floor with Rudolph seemingly unhappy with the tackle, and Garrett seemingly unwilling to let go believing Rudolph still has the ball. This gets worse when you see Rudolph grabbing at Garrett’s helmet (which I believe is something many are overlooking) before Garrett decides to show him how the helmet removal process really works, dragging Rudolph almost to his feet and two linemen with him as he yanks the helmet from the young QB. Garrett then backs off with David DeCastro holding him and you think it’s done. As that happens, you’re thinking, “Okay, Mason, stay away from Garrett – you don’t have a helmet on, just protect yourself”, but does he? No. He rushes straight up to Garrett, shouts something, and immediately Garrett swings the helmet he’s holding and clocks its owner on the unprotected head with it.
Let’s pause here just a second and take that action in to account.
Myles Garrett is a very, very strong man. The man could crush my head like a grape. He’s 123kgs in weight, which translates to 19 stone for us in the UK. A nineteen stone man of incredible structure and power, swinging a helmet ironically hard enough to protect an unprotected head from a nineteen stone man, at an unprotected head.
He hit him, too. He didn’t miss. He didn’t get a clean connection but he was certainly committed to doing just that. What would have happened if he’d truly connected? Mason Rudolph could have been seriously hurt, injured, or even killed. Head injuries are extremely dangerous, and let’s not forget that Rudolph has already had a pretty serious concussion this year. In a league intent on protecting quarterbacks from injury and particularly head injuries, this needs to be taken very, very seriously, and I think we are looking at a suspension that will pass way in to next year, possibly a complete twelve month ban.
This was a criminal act. It may have been heat of the moment, but this wasn’t the give and take occasionally-boiling-over energy of a football game – this was assault.
On top of that, Pouncey got involved, and when I say got involved, I mean really got involved. Upon seeing Garrett swing the helmet Pouncey went in to what he called “protection mode”, which involved punching Garrett in the helmet (at least he had one), and further kicking him when he was on the floor, pancaked by DeCastro. Does anyone blame him? No. He may have gone too far kicking a man already on the floor, but he will rightfully make no apologies – it’s his job to protect his quarterback, and that’s exactly what he did. He will certainly face suspension but he will receive nothing but respect from the Steelers organisation as well as the locker room for flying in to protection mode.
On top of all of this there’s an enormous melee including many players from both sides, and in the end, Pouncey and Garrett are ejected, closely followed by Larry Ogunjobi for shoving Rudolph to the ground from behind.
The saddest thing in all of this is that the Browns played the best game they’ve played in years with the exception of Austin Siebert, whose kicks are probably still flying wide. They turned up, they played hard, and they got the W. But no one will focus on that now.
One thing the Browns will be happy about is the reaction of young quarterback Baker Mayfield who has had all manner of issues this season, and seems to have hit middle-age because of it. But no-one can question his words last night after he called it “inexcusable”. It’s also worth watching Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry react to it live in the post-game interview. Neither can seemingly believe what they are watching, and no excuses are made.
This team seems to struggle with discipline. As well as those two Browns ejections, there was an ejection earlier in the game for a nasty helmet hit by safety Damarious Randall that led to Diontae Johnson leaving the game with a concussion.
Freddie Kitchens called Garrett’s actions an embarrassment and Garrett didn’t disagree, but how much does this fall on him? The Browns have been undisciplined all season, and you can’t imagine these incidents happening in locker rooms headed by the likes of Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll, who are different in their personalities and style, but each has the respect of the team.
If the Browns players respected Kitchens, and he could control the team, would these things have happened?
I don’t think so.
Either way, look for Garrett to take the Number One spot on the NFL Longest Suspension list, previously dominated by Vontaze Burfict who seems to be the Ed Sheeran of suspensions, taking up no fewer than three spots in the top five.
Like you, I will be keeping my eyes glued to my social media feeds today in lieu of information.
It’s actually quite exciting, isn’t it?