Myles Garrett knows what a defense needs to do to stop Lamar Jackson from taking over a football game.
Garrett, the Browns' defensive end sack artist, was part of a defense that handed Jackson one of his three losses last season in a Week 4 triumph in Baltimore. The Browns held Jackson to 24-of-34 passing for 247 yards, 66 rushing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 40-25 victory.
The defense played arguably its best game of the year and prevented Jackson from making the dazzling runs and deep passes that propelled him to league MVP. No other team found the formula to stopping Jackson until the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Playoff Round.
Now, the Browns are hoping to rediscover their defensive magic again and start 1-0 for the first time since 2004.
"You have to aggressively contain him," Garrett said Friday in a Zoom call with local reporters. "Anybody who's seen the film knows why he's so hard to defend. He's as elusive as anyone in the league. If he's having a good day throwing the ball, he's very hard to stop."
The book on stopping Jackson is still being written, but the Browns have authored a few pages in how to do it.
When they beat Jackson, they made him a one-dimensional quarterback who needed to pass the ball with higher frequency for the Ravens to stay in the game. Jackson's 34 pass attempts against the Browns in Week 4 were his third-highest in a game last season, and Cleveland essentially shut down the Ravens by keeping them off the scoreboard early and allowing the offense to slowly build a lead.
The same results occurred for the Ravens in their playoff game, when the Titans held the Ravens off the scoreboard early and forced them to pass and keep up. They didn't, and they were one-and-done despite earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
So a fast start by the Browns defense would certainly help, but Garrett believes the biggest factor for a win will be corralling the run game and pivoting the Ravens to more of a pass-heavy offense.
"We have to challenge them in every spot and make it hard to open up the playbook and keep it one dimensional," he said. "We just have to make it hard on him, keep him corralled and not give him any easy targets."
Garrett acknowledged that Jackson, 23, is still a young quarterback capable of being even more talented in his third NFL season, but he's still confident in the defense finding a way to slow the quarterback down no matter what.
He's seen improvement in some of the Browns' young defensive players, too, and even though Jackson might have room to grow, he believes the Browns are ready to counter with the same force they had against Jackson in their win from last season.
"I'm going to go out there and prepare for Lamar 2.0, if he's come out faster or with a better arm," Garrett said. "We just have to play him like we would last year. We'll play him to the best of our ability. We can't do anything more than that. If he comes out better or makes some throws we haven't seen, we'll just have to adjust on the fly."
It'll certainly be a challenge, though, but Garrett's presence alone will be huge in giving the Browns an edge. Even though he registered just one tackle in the win over Baltimore last season, opponents are forced to build their game plan around Garrett when he's on the field.
The Ravens offense took off for 481 total yards when Garrett missed the Week 16 rematch, and Jackson rushed for 103 yards as the Browns defense struggled to repeat their earlier success with Garrett on the field.
Now that he's back, the Browns defensive line could be one of the toughest Jackson sees all season. Stopping Jackson will never be easy, but Garrett believes the Browns are capable.
"He won MVP — it's tough for everyone to do," he said, "but we're up for the task."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Ravens Sunday