Yesterday Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin stated that he expected Cleveland Browns all everything corner Joe Haden to shadow Antonio Brown on Sunday. Haden has made a living off sticking with the other team’s best receiver and following him all over the field. It is one of the biggest thing that separates Haden from Richard Sherman, who guards one side of the field. Brown is the Steelers’ best receiver so it was natural for Tomlin to believe Haden would be on him the whole game.
Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine thinks differently about that use of Haden:
Pettine said he’s “never a fan” of giving opponents same coverages, so not likely to have Haden on Brown all day Sunday.
— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) September 4, 2014
Another smart move by Pettine to setup the Steelers with something else to think about. Given Pettine’s comments it seems like not only won’t Haden be only on Brown, but he is also not just going to play one side of the field. If Haden was on Brown Big Ben would know where he was at all times. If Haden was always on the left side of the defense Ben would have that information as well. Instead Haden is likely to be all over the field. Left, right, inside, outside and even in a more traditional safety position every once and awhile.
Pettine is know for his creative defenses and using a stud corner like Haden in multiple ways can only be beneficial. Yet it does mean that the Steelers best receiver may be covered by rookie Justin Gilbert, who struggled in pre-season, or smaller Buster Skrine, who is coming back from a thumb injury, for Pettine the benefits outweigh the possible negatives.
In certain situations Haden can be deployed as a blitzer or to cover the Steelers’ security blanket Heath Miller. While Miller is much bigger than a traditional receiver Haden might cover, Haden’s quickness and speed could overcome that. Blanketing Miller with Haden and Whitner in a crunch time situation could stop a big Steelers drive.
One thing we have learned from Pettine is expect the unexpected. He has the Steelers thinking about Johnny Manziel package of plays and now wondering where Joe Haden might be. He has used the media well to deliver information that he believes will help the Browns. Haden will likely be on Brown a majority of the game but Pettine is keeping the opponent thinking.
What do you think of Pettine’s plan for Haden?