Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A toast for Joe Haden

When it comes to listing the so-called shutdown cornerbacks in the National Football League, Joe Haden’s name invariably lands among the top five.

Apparently those who put together such a list haven’t been paying close attention to  the talents of the Browns cornerback. If they had, they would notice he isn’t anywhere near shutdown status.

Haden has been singed so many times last season and the first three games of this season, it’s surprising he has not been crowned with the sobriquet that hounded Elvis Patterson when he played with the New York Giants in the mid-1980s.

Giants coach Bill Parcells saw Patterson burned so many times in his four-year career in New York, he took to calling him “Toast.” That nickname became so popular, it is now pinned on those NFL cornerbacks who play similarly to Patterson.

Blow enough assignments, fail to come through with a big play on a consistent basis when needed and you risk being called “Toast.” Haden, who played a more formidable corner in his first few seasons, appears to have slipped.

His reputation as an elite cornerback, for some reason, has not taken much of a hit. But there is no question his so-called upside is on a major downslide. He longer can be trusted to shut down the opposition’s top wide receiver.

He’s only 25 years old and just approaching the peak of his career. He should be getting better. That, however, has not been the case. Far from it, in fact.

He had six interceptions in his rookie season in 2010 and everyone forecast a brilliant future. He has picked off just seven passes since then and has not been solid when attempting to shut down the opponent’s key receiver

This season, for example, leading Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown torched him with five receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers raced to a 24-point halftime lead in the season opener.

In the loss to Baltimore last Sunday, Haden was tasked with shutting down Steve Smith, a man 10 years younger and not nearly as quick or fast. Smith caught five passes for 101 yards, including a clutch 32-yarder over Haden in the final minute that set up the winning field goal.

Those are not the kinds of performances one expects out of a so-called shutdown cornerback, the definition of which means someone who actually shuts down the opposition.

The fact strong safety Donte Whitner has been playing more coverage safety than box safety might be construed by some as a lack of faith by the coaching staff in the cornerbacks. One can understand that lack of faith for rookie Justin Gilbert. But Haden?

Maybe the lack of a pass rush this season has led to extra pressure on the secondary, but shutdown corners are still expected to do their job no matter what happens up front. There are no excuses for elite players who fail to do their job.

The Cleveland defense, especially among the front seven, has struggled mightily in the first three games and the sloppy performance of the secondary hasn’t helped. Someone back there needs to take charge and start making plays.

The true measure of respect for an NFL cornerback is the number of times he is thrown at. Opposing quarterbacks no longer avoid Haden. Instead, they target him now that they see he's not much of a threat.

Right now, he needs to be the man because no one else is stepping up. He has to start playing like everyone believes he can or risk losing that shutdown status and start preparing to be called what Elvis Patterson was all those years ago.


  1. Perhaps, Haden is being so cautious in using his hands, he loses leverage and is getting beaten more than at any time .
    As long as the officiating is going to call defensive holding as they have been, Haden is going to have to adjust his game -- which used to be getting a hand on a receiver. The worst part of the new rule change is the blindness of the officiating to the receivers using their hands to push off.

  2. You, sir, are parroting the notion of the coaches. Don't make excuses for the guy. He's played this game long enough to know how to adjust. And don't blame the officials. They're calling the game the way they've been told to.

    Fact is Haden was mediocre last season when the officials were not calling the game as tightly as they are now. He is not who we thought he was.

    As for getting his hands on receivers, he can do that in press coverage. If he is allowed to go nose-to-nose with his guy at the line of scrimmage, he can do anything he wants within the first five yards.

    As for pushing off, receivers have been doing that for years now. Michael Irvin got away with that stuff throughout his career and is now in the Hall of Fame.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence for of the most corrupt officiating in the world of sports(except for perhaps the International Olympics).

  3. So you have joined the conspiracy theory crowd. Lemme pass along something Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a couple of years ago:

    "The bigger problem (with NFL officiating) is either out of concern over concussions, or just wanting to codify every little nuance of the sport, The NFL has passed so many rules, the game has become impossible to officiate consistently."

    Officials do not cost teams games. Teams do a good enough job doing that all by themselves. So much for your conspiracy theory.

    If you still believe that is the case, why even follow the NFL? There must be better things to do with your time than follow a sport you believe is fixed.

    1. Hey, people loved roller derby and professional wrestling! (Lord Layton and Fritz Von Eric would be proud). Maybe some day the Browns will become one of the "favored" teams among officials. We can only hope.

  4. Meh, I'm gonna go with Rich on this one. Same goes for Gordon and Cameron. We've had such a crappy team for so long that "newbies" just don't have a clue. Over Rated. Not saying they aren't good, but they are what they are. If we weren't passing so much last year, who would our hero's be? As for Haden, proof meets pudding.

    1. Watch who you're calling a "newbie" kid! I've been watching the Browns since the days of Jim Brown and its punks like you who make a decent conversation so difficult.

  5. And you still can't take your eyes off it.

    At least the current rassling jokers don't sell it as sport. It's a combination of athleticism and theater. It's nothing more than art imitating life and they do a pretty good job of selling it.

    Can't say that about the NFL. So you go right ahead and believe anything you want. You are in the vast minority.

    And I loved Lord Athol Layton growing up. Don't you be talking smack bout him. Same with Johnny Power, Lou Thesz, Dick The Bruiser (who played in the NFL), Ernie Ladd (ditto) and Bruno Sammartino.

    1. Not hard to "fix" a game when the refs are in charge. It can still be a sport with players totally oblivious to what's happening. Too many games hinge on questionable calls. The players don't have to be scripted as long as the refs have their preferences(or instructions). The NFL is a corporation with 32 departments. The total league revenues are shared equally so there is no punishment for owning Jacksonville vs Kansas City vs Dallas.

      A few fundamentals need to be established:
      First, the NFL possesses an Anti-Trust Exemption to the law granted to it by President John F. Kennedy, which ultimately allows the NFL to classify itself as "entertainment" rather than sport, as well as incorporate itself as a single entity instead of the 32 separate "franchises" they would want you to believe.

      Second, in a 2004 lawsuit vs the NFL, the NFL argued they are not a collection of 32 teams, but a single entity. They compete as a unit in the entertainment marketplace, and not subject to Anti-Trust laws." Like the WWE.

      Third, NFL Referees are part-time employees of the NFL. NFL refs make less than $75,000 per season. They work for the league, period. Referees are bound by NFL mandated gag orders which prevent them from talking to the media.

      In 2007 a Jets season ticket holder sued the NFL for $185 million and the case reached the US Supreme Court. The Jets fan argued that, all Jets fans are entitled to refunds because they paid for a ticket to a legitimate sporting event. Had he been aware that the games were not real then we would not have gone.

      The Judge stated that a ticket to a game only provides you access to the stadium. The fan entered the stadium, witnessed a game, therefore he did not suffer any damages. The fan's lawyer disagreed and argued that the NFL committed consumer fraud.

      Judges ruled that fixing a game for entertainment purposes was completely LEGAL.

      In 2000 Art Model, owner of the Baltimore Ravens announced he was selling the team. Miraculously, even with one of the worst offenses in NFL history, they won the Super Bowl. And the Ravens were subsequently sold to Steve Busciotti for a record price.

      Robert Kraft and John Mara are two of the most business savvy and highly respected NFL owners. Kraft was in charge of the NFL TV broadcast committee and also led all television negotiations for the NFL. Kraft also was on the board of Viacom (CBS). Kraft negotiated a record TV deal resulted in $24 Billion in revenue.

      Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank was interviewed saying "It is predetermined that these two teams would be here, I wish my team was selected to be in the Super Bowl, but these two gentlemen deserve it".

      There are many more examples, and no one wants this to be true.....But it is. The NFL said it themselves in court. We are entertainment and we can manage outcomes as we see fit. We're EXEMPT. Thanks for reading all of this. It is compiled from many sources.

  6. B,

    There is nothing new here. I've read most of this stuff before at one time or another.

    If you choose -- and I'm assuming you do -- to believe every word, then fine, don't watch these "fixed" games. I choose to disbelieve most of those words.

    Several inaccuracies: The Ravens won their first Super Bowl with a team did not have one of the worst offenses in NFL history. That offense averaged nearly 21 points a game (14th in the league), the defense that allowed just 165 points a game (1st in the league) and had two quarterbacks (Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks) who kept mistakes at a minimum. The turnover ratio was a rather amazing +23.

    They were a well-balanced team with a strong running game, a terrific defense, excellent special teams and, again, an offense that avoided huge mistakes. They also got real hot at the right time.

    As for the officials making that kind of money, I have no idea where you get your information. The average salary of NFL officials is $173,000 a year with long-time officials receiving as much as $205,000 a year. And you are right, they are part-time employees. But is making them full-timers going to make any appreciable difference in how they officiate? I think not.

    What is wrong with Kraft and TV negotiations? The idea is to make as much money for the league as possible. And he was able to do that for his fellow owners. That's just good business.

    Never saw that Blank quote. I checked. You copied it from a post from a thread in In fact, you copied a lot from that post. Word for word. Nice job of copying and pasting.

    In the journalism business, that's called plagiarism even though you tried to cover yourself at the end. In this case, it's blatant.

    You can read all you want about this conspiracy theory, but until someone with credibility steps forward and can prove what you and others believe, I don't.

    Time to move on, The Browns resume next Sunday. I trust you won't be in front of your TV set to watch them. I understand the baseball playoffs will be on, too.

    Maybe you should work on conspiracy theories for that sport and the NBA as well. I think you'll have no trouble compiling stuff from other sources with regard to that.

    1. Oops.

      Make that 165 points overall on defense. That's a remarkable stat.


      As you were.