You’d think for someone like Joe Haden, coming over from hapless Cleveland to a Super Bowl contender, his stress level would hit DEFCON levels. But he says it’s the opposite.
Speaking on 93.7 The Fan with Joe Starkey and Chris Mueller, Haden said coming to Pittsburgh has in a way, been a relief.
“Coming here and going into the locker room and just seeing the level of talent we have all over the place,” Haden said. “Going into games literally being favored and not everything has to go in our favor for us to win. We just gotta play the type of ball we need to play, don’t hurt ourselves, and we can win every single game. So with that confidence and knowing who you’re coming into the games with, I feel way less stressful playing with the Steelers.”
The Steelers are two games over .500, something that happened to Haden only once in his entire Browns’ career. At any point. That was back in 2014 when for a brief moment, at 6-3, they seemed like contenders. But they lost six of their final seven and bumbled their way to a 7-9 finish. That was as good as it got for him.
Pittsburgh, obviously, is a totally different story. They’ve been favored in every game but one this year, last week’s win over Kansas City, something that was headline news in Cleveland (this year too).
There’s less pressure. But clearly, more stability, an obvious point Haden referenced as a difference between the two cities. The Browns have gone through more head coaches and quarterbacks than fans can remember. In Pittsburgh, there’s only a few. You know the stats. Three head coaches since the merger. Ben Roethlisberger since 2004. Sports Illustrated named the Steelers as the best franchise in their upcoming book.
Haden has looked healthy and played well throughout the season, the veteran not caving to the ups-and-downs the way Artie Burns has. He’s gotten good practice too, literally, facing off daily against Antonio Brown.
“The one thing is his conditoning is amazing,” Haden said of AB. “He has the speed, he has the quickness. He isn’t the biggest dude but he’s strong and runs really good routes. The one thing he has with Big Ben is the scramble drill. Once that first initial route breaks down, AB is the best I’ve ever covered of helping the quarterback scramble and get open, creating the next route.”
Iron sharpening iron, something that’s not just reserved for Burns. It’s paid off during the season. According to our charting, Haden has been targeted just six times this season and only twice since Week Four. Only two of those targets have been completed.