The sting of Sunday’s loss to the Bengals will likely radiate in our memories for some time. We watched the promising outlook for the 2013 season dissipate before our eyes and our focus now turns to the unfortunately improving Pittsburgh Steelers. Before we turn the page on this one, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a personal and professional victory for the new Top Dawg in Cleveland.
Joe Haden swiped interceptions on back-to-back drives in the first quarter, Sunday at Cincinnati. The second of which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown. A touchdown that has eluded him throughout both his college and professional career. It has been a long time coming and I hope there are many more to come. Way to go, Joe!
Not only did he snatch a pair of picks, he also shut down one of the premier receivers in the league, again. AJ Green collected only two receptions for seven yards, that’s right, seven total yards. Haden is quickly becoming known around the league as an elite cornerback, having won battles this year against Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Stevie Johnson, Calvin Johnson and twice against AJ Green. Over the six games against these combined receivers, Haden has limited the entire group to a total of 18 receptions and a whopping 160 yards. Let that sink in for a moment. That is an average of only three catches and 27 yards per game against the best talent in the NFL.
So far this season, teams have worked diligently to avoid “Haden Island” as they have opted instead to target Buster Skrine and Chris Owens. Once a prime target for opposing quarterbacks, the much-improved, Buster Skrine is now consistently locking down the opposite side and Haden should continue to see more opportunities to increase his interception total as a result. We certainly need to add some depth to the roster in the secondary, but Haden and Skrine could be the best tandem we have seen in Cleveland since Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield. I will not go that far just yet, but it is sure fun to watch and the sky is the limit.