Watching replays of Browns games, the one scenario in which I can see this winless team beating the 5-2 Vikings in London is this:
Cleveland’s sixth-ranked run defense (83.7) stuffs a Vikings running game that has been surprisingly good without Dalvin Cook. The game ends up in Case Keenum’s hands. Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams unleashes a furious pass rush led by rookie Myles Garrett while the Vikings are forced to play backup left tackle Rashod Hill, who had to finish last week’s game. Turnovers lead to the 8 1/2-point underdogs sneaking out of London with the upset of the year.
But, in typical Browns fashion, even this glimmer was extinguished when a concussion prevented Garrett from even making the trip to London.
It appears the knee that was bothering starting left tackle Riley Reiff at the end of last week’s game won’t keep him out of Sunday’s game. He participated in Thursday’s walkthrough and doesn’t appear to be favoring the knee.
Meanwhile, Garrett is already ruled out.
That’s good news for the Vikings because this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick is the real deal when healthy, which hasn’t been the case in five of seven games this year.
After sitting out the first four games with a high ankle sprain, Garrett has four sacks in three games. Let’s look at the first snap of his first NFL game, a 17-14 loss to the Jets in Week 5:
Third-and-5, third play of the game: Already you can tell that Williams will enjoy using the big, fast, quick defensive end in a variety of ways. You remember Williams, right? In Vikings history, he was the defensive coordinator in New Orleans when “Bountygate” enveloped Vikings QB Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game. And in 2015, Williams was the defensive coordinator in St. Louis when the Rams knocked Teddy Bridgewater out of the game with a questionable hit that raised the ire of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
On this play against the Jets, Garrett lines up at tackle over left guard James Carpenter. Williams has only two linemen and doesn’t show blitz until right before the ball is snapped.
Garrett and linebacker Christian Kirksey run a simple cross that overwhelms the left side of the line. But it’s Garrett’s quickness and strength that stands out. He makes an inside burst and is past Carpenter in a blink.
One play, one NFL sack.
Considering the Vikings ended last week’s game with their No. 2 left tackle and No. 3 left guard Danny Isadora, not having to face Garrett on Sunday is a very good thing.