Steelers Film Room: 2016 Joe Haden Vs Odell Beckham Jr. Matchup

“To be the man, you got to beat the man.” A phrase not only made famous by wrestling icon Ric Flair but also a very important quote relatable to new Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback Joe Haden. Due to past accolades and being signed to a contract that could pay him a total of $27 million, many are counting on Haden to be the man in the Steelers’ young secondary.

While Haden’s first test to be the man in Pittsburgh will come next Sunday against his former team – the Cleveland Browns, he has had his fair share of main event matchups over his career. One in particular that stands out is last season’s matchup against the New York Giants and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

One of the top receivers in the game today, Beckham was just the test Haden needed to see if the former Browns’ cornerback could still hang with the best of them. And while Beckham looked like the decisive winner on paper – finishing with six receptions for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns, the film shows that this was a much closer contest than it appeared.

The Giants go for the big blow early with a deep pass down the right sideline to Beckham but Haden is able to recover quickly and break it up. Great awareness and anticipation from the Pro Bowl corner to break up the pass from Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Beckham is able to get one back on Haden by converting an early third down in the first quarter. Facing third and five, Beckham uses a nifty outside release and works his way back to the play to convert. Haden is unfortunately stranded in no man’s land as Manning puts the ball in a place where only Beckham can make a play.

Beckham finally connects with the big blow here, turning a short pass into a 32-yard touchdown. Lined up on the left side of the offense, Beckham runs a drag route and uses his speed to outrace Haden towards the sideline. With a final chance to limit the damage, Haden falls flat on his attempt to bring down Beckham and is forced to watch the Giants receiver scamper towards the end zone.

Not ready to allow a second touchdown to Beckham, Haden sticks to the Giants receiver through traffic, forcing him into a very unlikely position to score. Beckham even gets away with a shove on Haden in the back corner of the end zone but is still unable to make the catch.

With the score tied, Beckham takes the last point in a winner takes all scenario. Lined up in the slot, Beckham uses a double move to work his way back to the middle of the field to make the catch. Though Haden is not a headless chicken in coverage, his speed and quickness is no match for Beckham.

While Beckham came out victorious, the performance between the two was not as separated as the box score would make it appear. A couple missed tackles is likely the difference between a breakout day by Beckham and a modest stat line.

Though the argument can be made that Haden’s 2016 season may be skewed due to two notable groin injuries, it will harder to give the new cornerback a hall pass again should he want to be the man in a young Steelers’ secondary. Fortunately, as the tape shows there are still glimpses of a dominant Haden waiting to be extracted.

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • StrengthOfVictory

    In two cases, it looks like fellow Browns defenders were more of an impediment to Haden than Beckham. Definitely encouraging signs…especially if Joe is healthier this year.

  • falconsaftey43

    Encouraging overall I think. Didn’t get blown past by one of the quickest, fastest, and best route running WRs in the game. Stayed pretty close to him and made some plays on the ball. The curl and drag are the only ones where he gave up decent separation. The last play stick-n-nod up the seam, he’s close in trail and forces a tight window throw, the safety just completely blows it and never even makes contact with OBJ. That’s on the safety all the way, it’s the only vertical route on his side and he is late and completely misses the tackle as well.

  • Boots

    We’ve seen AB take an almost identical crossing route to house against Burns this preseason, so when you go up against one of the best in the game it can happen. The safeties are as much to blame on the last one as Haden because they HAVE to make that tackle. Again Haden doesn’t have to be AllPro #1 CB here and try to do too much, he just needs to be a healthier version of last year to be an upgrade and solidify this secondary!

  • nutty32

    Does Belichick ever leave any of his corners manned up, single coverage against the other team’s all-world WR? Only the Browns and Raiders seem to be so stupid on a regular basis.

  • falconsaftey43

    IDK. Cover zero is really infrequent. I don’t think any of these are cover zero (except maybe the one in the endzone). Most appear to be man defense with 1 or 2 safeties over the top, so there is help somewhere. Teams don’t often “double” a WR truly with two guys assigned to him and only him. It’s more that they have man coverage with zone help around him.

  • Bill

    Few receivers have the combined attributes of Beckam and therefore I view this as encouraging.

  • nutty32

    Those safeties are doing a crap job & they have Haden following OBJ maybe to confuse the help? Can’t imagine they wouldn’t at least go into a soft double on OBJ considering the huge drop off to next Giant weapon.

  • falconsaftey43

    No question that in the 1st and last GIF the safety should have been in better position to impact the play. Other plays are all underneath routes vs. man coverage, CB isn’t going to get any help there, it’s up to him.

  • nutty32

    I can live with all those underneath plays. Darn near impossible task for any cb. Better safety play/soft doubles on those underneath routes would positively help to get OBJ on the ground after the catch.

  • SteelCityDefense

    Just heard Aditi quote Butler saying that “he was impressed with Haden’s speed” “he kept up with Heyward Bey”. If that’s the case… and he is actually fully healed… well then… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Matt Manzo

    Can’t wait to watch him play for us!

  • Kevin artis

    Cockrell can do that………..Lol..

  • Daniel Valente

    I dont think it would be a pretty sight to see the current Cockrell up against OBJ