BEREA, Ohio — Myles Garrett said Friday that he was “disappointed” and “a little bit confused” by comments from fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney that prompted the Cleveland Browns to send Clowney home before Friday’s practice.
“I knew he was frustrated. We’ve all been frustrated; we’re not winning,” Garrett said. “I wish we could’ve talked about this man-to-man. … I wish he would have handled it a little bit differently.”
On Thursday, Clowney told Cleveland.com that he was “95% sure” he would not be re-signing with the Browns, in large part because he believes the team has favored Garrett over him.
“You’re all trying to get [Garrett] into the Hall of Fame instead of winning games,” Clowney said. “I don’t even think [Garrett] notices. I’m not trying to say it’s him. I try to get along with everybody I play with. Me and him don’t have a problem. It ain’t his fault, and it’s BS, and I don’t have time for it.”
Clowney added that the Browns have “got their own guys, and I ain’t one of them, so it’s time for me to get my exit slip.”
After Friday’s practice, Brown’s coach Kevin Stefanski wouldn’t say whether he would sit Clowney for Cleveland’s final game Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m not going to get into my discussions with any of our players throughout the course of the season,” said Stefanski, who declined to answer several other questions about Clowney. “We’re all human. We all have things that come up throughout the season that we talk about, but I’m not going to get into the specifics on this one.”
Defensive ends coach Chris Kiffin, however, confirmed later Friday that at one point this season — Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens — Clowney refused to play on first or second down. Kiffin said that Clowney had initially indicated to him that he could not play on non-third downs because of an injury. But Clowney was upset with how the Browns had planned to use him in the game.
“We practiced all week, and we get in the game and they want to move me. I’m not doing that s—. I’m old. I did my job. I don’t have time for that,” Clowney had told Cleveland.com. “I’ve made my money. I’m doing this because I love the game, but keep [doing things like that] and making me not love the game.”
Clowney did not play on the opening series the following weekend on “Monday Night Football” against the Cincinnati Bengals, although he entered the game on Cincinnati’s second possession.
Garrett said he didn’t even realize Clowney was refusing to play on first or second down against Baltimore until the next week.
“I assumed he was hurt,” Garrett said. “I just assumed something was holding him back.”
Clowney has had a disappointing second season for the 7-9 Browns, who were eliminated from the AFC playoff picture two weeks ago.
After racking up nine sacks with the Browns last season, Clowney has only two sacks this year. He also sat four games with ankle and concussion injuries.
Clowney is a free agent again this offseason, having signed back-to-back one-year deals with the Browns.
Garrett, meanwhile, has a team-high 15 sacks, fourth most in the NFL, and was named to a fourth Pro Bowl.
Garrett also faced the highest double-team rate (31.3%) of any edge rusher in the league this season. Despite that, he’s second among edge rushers in pass rush win rate (27.8%); Clowney’s pass rush win rate is just 16.5%.
“If I’m the most double-teamed guy, it’s hard to say I’m getting the most favorable matchups,” Garrett said. “What I’ve done speaks for itself. Of course they’re going to put me in positions to make plays. But they’re also going to be positions where I’m going to get double-teamed. I move all over the line. [Clowney] has moved, as well. We’re both moved to be put in favorable matchups. He’s getting those same looks, at least that’s what I see. And I wish we could have talked about it.”
Garrett said that his relationship with Clowney had always been “cordial” and that he didn’t take the comments personally.
But when asked whether he’d welcome Clowney back, Garrett said he wants “volunteers, not hostages,” on the Browns.
“If you feel like no one believes in you here,” Garrett said, “then go where you feel like you’re wanted and loved and appreciated.”