Coach Kevin Stefanski saved his final game captain selection for one of the Browns' biggest leaders in one the Browns' biggest games.
Well, it's actually the biggest Browns game of the season — Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Win, and Cleveland is in the playoffs. Stefanski has put careful consideration into who his individual game captain will be each week, and that player — whose only extra responsibility is to represent their team in the pregame coin toss — has usually gone on to excel and make a game-changing play in the same game.
So, for the Browns' final, and by far the biggest, game of the regular season, his selection was easy: Myles Garrett.
"It's a big game," Stefanski said, "so I am sending the big guy out there."
Garrett unquestionably has become the biggest leader on the Browns defense. He's made 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and 44 tackles and has often saved his best moves at defensive end for key moments of the game. When Garrett makes a big play, it has usually come in a big moment, and Stefanski wanted to give Garrett one more tip of the cap for his leadership.
"Myles has been a great leader for this team," he said. "He does it in his actions, and he does it with his words. He is just an important part of what we are trying to get done, and he understands that I am counting on him."
Garrett is pleased to receive the honor. He said he originally hoped to be tabbed as a team captain for the Browns' Week 4 matchup in Dallas, where Garrett was born and raised, but when Stefanski gave the nod to Andrew Sendejo instead, Stefanski asked Garrett which game he believed he'd be best for captain status.
The last game of the season always made sense. If the Browns stayed on track to reach their regular-season goals, then that final game had the potential of carrying playoff implications. Better yet, it was against their AFC North rival. The game was going to be big no matter what.
So Garrett picked it. Now, he's the Browns' captain for one of the franchise's biggest games since the team was brought back to the NFL in 1999. The stage is as big as Garrett could've hoped, and he's determined to not let his teammates or Stefanski down.
"I knew it would be a big game for us," Garrett said. "This is a playoff game for us. It's win or go home, so we have to treat it like that. Every play could be our last, so we have to make it a good one."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers
Brownson Steps in for O'Shea
Callie Brownson has been given praise by players and coaches all season for how well she's performed as Browns Chief of Staff. Her importance to the Browns was emphasized even more in Week 12, when she filled in for Drew Petzing as tight ends coach and became the first woman to serve as a position coach in a regular-season game in league history.
Now, Brownson is receiving another opportunity to coach. This time, she'll fill in for pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea, whom Stefanski announced would not be available for Week 17.
"We will not miss a beat there," Stefanski said. "Callie is one of those people who can step into a dual role for us and run the personnel and the substitutions on gameday and work with the coaches."
Brownson has carried a variety of roles all season as Chief of Staff. She's brought assistance across all corners of the team, from the coaching room, to the locker room, to the equipment room. Stefanski, who carried a similar role under former Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress in 2006, hired Brownson after she served as a coaching intern in 2019.
That experience has paid off in several ways already in 2020, and it's why Stefanski is ready to give Brownson coaching duties for a second time this season.
Landry Puts Streak Behind Him
Jarvis Landry couldn't have been more excited to play in the Browns' Week 16 matchup versus the New York Jets.
He had just finished a great week of practice and was feeling healthy and confident. His team had several scenarios in which they could make the playoffs and receive a little help around the NFL, and Landry was poised to help the Browns get there.
Then, he heard news he couldn't comprehend.
Shortly before the Browns could depart for New York, Landry — as well as other wide receivers in Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge — was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list as a close contact. He was going to miss the first NFL game of his seven-year career and end his streak of 110 consecutive games played.
He was devastated.
"It was very tough," Landry said. "I was excited about the game and the buildup. I had no idea I was going to be one of the guys until I got the call."
Landry was activated Thursday and is feeling even more motivation for Week 17. The Browns are essentially in playoff mode and are guaranteed a trip to the postseason with a win, which is exactly the position Landry always hoped to be in since joining the Browns in 2018.
Yes, he's still upset about not playing last weekend. He always cherished his consecutive games streak and took pride in always being there for his teammates. Whenever Landry could choose between resting due to injury or playing, he always chose to play. Last week, however, he didn't have a choice.
Now, he's just happy to be back. He's well-rested and ready to give the offense all he has in the regular season finale. His streak might be over, but his desire to lead the Browns has only grown stronger.
"This has been a journey," Landry said. "This is going to be a big moment for this organization, for this city and for Browns fans. We have to buckle down and win this game."