Back in May the Cleveland Browns rewarded Joe Haden with a monster contract extension. It was reported to be a five-year, $68 million contract that included $45 million in guaranteed money.
This deal made him the third highest paid defensive back in football behind Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman. Such money would indicate that Haden is one of the best in the game at what he does. Don't get me wrong, he is. However this season, he hasn't shown it.
Big play miss
Prior to the Browns 23-21 loss at home to the ravens, Jim Harbaugh even singled Haden out as a threat:
"Joe Haden is as good as there is. We've played him every year, and I don't hear a lot about him, except for the fact [that] when I watch him play, he speaks volumes in terms of the way he plays. If you want an evaluation, he's quick, he's athletic, he has ball skills. He's a stick-to-you cover corner."
However Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't seem to think so. With the game on the line and a first down needed to get into field goal range for a potential game winning kick, Flacco - instead of going after a rookie corner - went after Haden, and found Steve Smith who had created plenty of separation.
"We pride ourselves on being able to make plays and get stops and get off (the field), but I didn't do that today," Haden said. "It was a really good play, he got me on a go route. It was a good throw and catch, but I put it on myself. I've got to make the play."
Haden has been getting a bit of stick about his performances thus far and he probably needs a bit of support from his coaches, however Head Coach Mike Pettine today called out Haden:
"He's played well at times, but as you can see, at some inopportune times he's not played well. I think he'll admit that, as well. That's what we talk about. The great ones are going to make big plays when it's needed, and I think that's one area where Joe will look to improve."
Strong words but lets not kid ourselves, Pettine is trying to motivate Haden to be better, not get him down. His position in the line up isn't under threat. It's just about time that he starts justifying the big contract.
Luckily the seasons only three weeks deep, and with the Browns surprising many with their performances thus far, Haden has time to start getting it right. After all, if a few big plays had gone in their favor - they could well have been 3-0.