Film Room: Joe Haden A Stabilizer In Secondary

I don’t think I was the only one who had mixed feelings about the Pittsburgh Steelers signing cornerback Joe Haden a couple of months ago. Coming off of years of injuries, and mixed reports about the current state of his health and play, it was hard to know just what they were getting for their $10 million.

As we approach the midpoint of the season, however, it seems to be an investment that is paying off, and he has gotten better and better as the season has worn on and he has adjusted more to his new team, new scheme, new city, and just a new phase of his life.

The Steelers’ new left outside cornerback did not allow much against the Bengals, typified by this early four-yard flat route on second and nine given up to Brandon LaFell, though Cincinnati was able to convert on the subsequent third down and five. But a four-yard reception on second and nine? You generally take that.

Early in the second quarter, Dalton looked in LaFell’s direction again on a go route on second and eight. The throw was influenced by Cameron Heyward’s hit, providing pressure up the middle, but Haden stuck with the receiver all the way down the field with solid coverage.

Of course, the highlight of the day for him was his opportunity late in the third quarter to claim his first interception for the Steelers, which was also the 20th interception of his career. I don’t even know who was the last Steelers corner with that many…Rod Woodson? Of course, this one came off an errant pass and a deflection.

On the Bengals’ next drive after that, Dalton targeted Cody Core deep down the field. Haden did a great job of using the sideline as a second defender, pinning the second-year wide receiver to the outside hash marks and giving him no chance to bring the ball in within bounds.

I don’t know if Dalton would have looked his way on this fourth-quarter play, but Haden had tight coverage here on LaFell. That helped rub Vince Williams from making a quick run at the play, though, yet it was still just for six yards on second and nine.

Haden hasn’t done anything particularly spectacular since his arrival to Pittsburgh, but he hasn’t had to, either, and that’s part of what he loves being here. The Steelers don’t need him to be a superstar. They just need him to do his job, and he is.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Deshea Townsend had 21 interceptions mostly at CB; his last was in 2009.
    Great article Thanks!

  • Jim McCarley

    the team is playing solid right now…keep it up!

  • Lambert58

    Good stuff, Matthew. Totally agree, he’s been rock-solid. Something we haven’t been able to count on for a good long time.

  • capehouse

    At this point I’d say he’s locked into that 3 year contract. No way we’re letting him go. It’ll be tough with that $12 mil cap hit next year, and extending Shazier and franchising Bell again, but it seems totally worth it to me.

  • NW86

    It was only $7M this year, but yeah, I was skeptical whether he would prove worth that, like many were. The next 2 years are essentially $10M option years with nothing guaranteed, but it looks like he might be on his way to earning that first one!

  • WB Tarleton

    One of the most underrated CBs in our team’s history.

  • WreckIess

    He’s been awesome and it kinda makes you wonder if this team finally has a top 10 corner on their hands? He definitely hasn’t made a lot of splash plays, but just in terms of consistency, I don’t think there are too many guys you can put ahead of him.

    Ike thinks so, but he also says we have a top 3 CB unit(which may be true, but I’m iffy on that).

  • hdogg48

    To say that Joe Haden is a HUGE upgrade over Ross Cockrell
    gives new meaning to the term understatement.

  • The Tony

    We should have plenty of money to spend when Ben retires this year 😉

  • John Noh

    LMAO

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Man, he’s been on point and that int was clutch! Truly a great signing!

  • DangZone

    What is Hadens history playing against the Top Tier QBs in the league? Especially that one in New England.

  • Rich Stafford

    Haden is a solid number one corner on most teams in the NFL. People get caught up with the “shut down corner” label. They are truly unicorns. In my opinion the last shut down corners to roam NFL football fields were Rod Woodson and Dion Sanders in their primes.

  • AndyR34

    Remember how mad most of us were when we didn’t sign the FA kid from NE??? He was so important that I can’t even remember his name.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I have Deshea ranked # 56 on my all-time Steelers list

  • WilliamSekinger

    Love the presence of mind to give the receiver a push out of bounds knowing there is no force out rule anymore.

  • Dan

    With the “in his prime” clarifier, I’d add Revis.

  • Dan

    If he continues the way he’s been playing recently, I’d give him the $10 mil (6% of the salary cap).

  • Carl Mendelius

    When will the Steelers realize that the secondary is as important as any other defensive area. It took a tremendous embarrassment vs the Pats last season and a retirement threat from Ben to make them spend some money on Haden. Just inexcusable!!! And dangerous because I am sure Colbert is not convinced yet about how crucial the secondary is in modern football.

  • Rich Stafford

    I don’t put Revis in that category. He was an example of putting the shutdown tag on every good corner. Woodson and Sanders didn’t just shut guys down they baited QBS and took it to the house. Another level.

  • Conserv_58

    What’s not to like? He is a pro bowl calibur CB with seven years of experience in this division. Joe has a great personality and his professionalism sends the right message to the younger players. Joe is an elite player and elite players don’t need to say much because their play speaks for them. The Steelers are lucky to have been able to sign Joe when they did. It’s a win-win. The Steelers get a stud CB and Joe gets to experience what it’s like to win more than one game per season.

  • Balok’s Plight

    I like how he is able to line up tight in true man to man …. not that BS 5-7 yard cushion we usually give. Will need to play receivers tight to beat Brady and NE

  • sixnine

    You ain’t serious…

  • Steeldog22

    +1 this. I like that we hear about him as a great professional, teammate, and member of the community and rarely hear his name on Sundays, except for the occasional tackle or interception.