The Cleveland Browns drafted Joe Haden with the 7th overall win in 2010. The previous two players the Browns made first picks were Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, three great picks in a sea of design failures. In Joe Haden’s rookie season, the Browns finished 3rd at AFC North, 4th for the next 6 straight years, and the Browns split from Joe Haden ahead of the 2017 season resulting in him Steeler became.
The Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow as the first choice in the 2020 draft, a position that carries the weight of reversing the direction of a franchise business. It’s not an easy task, but it’s even harder at AFC North when you have to grapple with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, two of the better-run organizations in the NFL. Joe Haden has been on the wrong side of Cleveland for 7 seasons. In 2020 he had the opportunity to teach the promising Bengals freshman what life is like at AFC North when your team is stationed in Ohio.
1st quarter, 10:36 a.m. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen, off the limit.
Joe Burrow opened deeply to AJ Green. Minkah Fitzpatrick arrives to help Cameron Sutton on his route and Green steps behind Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden follows him. Burrow is doing the right reading here, but Joe Haden shows him how small the passing windows are in the NFL. Burrow leads Green lower instead of Haden, but without throwing the ball high in the air, and Haden steps in front of Green to break it up.
You can see it well at that angle.
This pass must make Green run away from Haden or have enough arc to bring it beyond Haden’s reach. You can’t get away with that against the better NFL corners.
1st quarter, 7:31 am. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen.
It is the third descent and the Bengals are running one way to the sticks against Joe Haden. It doesn’t work.
Check out Haden’s footwork on this piece.
Haden knows a route to the sticks is likely here, but he doesn’t commit too much in case it’s a fake. Instead, when Auden Tate starts turning Haden’s steps, they get incredibly fast, preparing him to react faster. If Tate turns his body, he agrees to go outside of Haden’s hips and he abandons the game. Haden gets a hand on Tate’s arm as the ball arrives and squeezes that arm to ensure an incomplete pass and a punt.
Joe Haden was never the fastest cornerback in the NFL, and he’s lost a step in his eleven seasons, but that footwork is elite and allows him to continue playing at an incredibly high level.
2nd quarter, 10:47 am Joe Haden is the cornerback at the bottom of the screen.
Joe Haden has help inside, so he uses a hard leverage from the outside and directs AJ Green towards Minkah Fitzpatrick. He knows that even a novice player is unlikely to attempt to throw a pass into the end zone near Fitzpatrick. Haden’s great job is his hard work of removing the back of the end zone, forcing Green to circling around him on a flatter route, removing all throwing motions in the far corner, and drastically shrinking the window to get the ball on Fitzpatrick over to AJ to bring Green.
Little things like this won’t get you on highlight reels because they only force the quarterback to throw the ball away, but it’s the same result as a great pass separation in the back corner of the end zone.
2nd quarter, 6:47. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the bottom of the screen.
In the first quarter they had AJ Green behind Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Haden broke the pass. Here in the second quarter the Bengals are again at cover 1, and this time they are throwing under Fitzpatrick, and as good as Fitzpatrick is, he cannot cover 8 meters that fast. Notice the outside leverage that Haden has here. The Steelers know Haden is not someone you want in a foot race with Tee Higgins. That’s why they put Haden with a head start on everything outside and deep and have help with everything inside and deep inside Minkah Fitzpatrick.
That leaves these routes open behind the linebackers and in front of Fitzpatrick. Haden can get there in time to refuse yards after the catch, but from his initial alignment he gives up on catching on such routes. Both Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton gave up such catches because the defenses are designed to allow them to while playing on the onslaught that disrupts the game so much that it is worth it. These games of chance paid off really well, it was a good strategy, but there are a good number of such games out there too.
2nd quarter, 0:12. Joe Haden is the deep defender at the bottom of the screen.
One of Joe Haden’s strengths is its deep zone coverage in Cover-3 or Cover-4. The Bengals attack this apparent 4 cover by overloading the field away from Haden. You can see Haden following the mail route from the recipient on his side, and in the end he helps out with the deep recipient, freeing up security while the game is still running. This is another aspect of his play that rarely shows up in climaxes but helps the Steelers defense in obvious low pass situations like the end of a half. The Steelers are the best defense in the NFL on these drives with 3 touchdowns allowed and 12 forced turnovers. on journeys that start within the last 3 minutes in the 2nd or 4th quarter of the last two seasons.
3rd quarter, 2:23 p.m. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen.
This piece shows exactly why Haden isn’t the type you want to run against Tee Higgins. Higgins shows his talent as a distance runner in this game, and as soon as he and Haden turn to run outside and get deep inside, Higgins is gone. The Bengals have made Haden get a little too involved in the slope and Haden accepts the loss on this route. Luckily for the Steelers, it’s also an example of Joe Burrows’ struggle to get deep passes in his rookie season.
In the 3rd quarter of 1418, Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen
After Joe Haden just got hit low and played off, the Bengals quickly attempt to take advantage of Joe Haden who is focused on deeper stretches. Haden’s technique pays off again and the Bengals win 3 yards in the game. Haden is a very good tackler for a cornerback, and he reliably takes his man down with aggressive tackles like this one.
3rd quarter, 1:37 p.m. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen.
Is there any more Bengals than playing three games in a row after the same player and getting ten feet off?
Joe Haden isn’t a player you’d ever want to target like that. Re-check the footwork and technique.
Haden accelerates and stops with Auden Tate, hitting him perfectly at his stop and pulling Tate’s arm off the ball for another incompleteness for the second time in the game.
One of my favorite parts in creating this movie room was during this replay when the broadcaster said, “Joe Burrow needs to realize who he’s targeting these throws.” Joe Haden is not the type you go after.
The Bengals targeted Joe Haden 9 times in week 10. You have completed 4 of these targets for 45 yards. Five meters to a target is a terrible number.
3rd quarter, 1:35. Joe Haden is the cornerback at the top of the screen, far from the limit.
I couldn’t walk through a Joe Haden movie room without showing him in the run support. Joe Haden played in his 11th NFL season in 2020 and he still throws himself into run defense with as much aggressiveness as he always has. This time he picks up the correct Bengals tackle and removes it from the game, leaving Vince Williams free to tackle the tackle.
Joe Haden is still a very valuable cornerback, and his value is increased significantly by having athletic safeguards in place that can help make up for his lack of speed on the straight. But even without help, his footwork, intelligence and overall excellent technique still make him one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.