The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Cincinnati Bengals this coming Sunday at Heinz Field and that means we’ll likely be treated to a great matchup between cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver A.J. Green.
Haden and Green have battled quite a bit over the years with all those matchups happening when the former was with the Cleveland Browns. You might be surprised to know that Haden has fared well against Green dating back to 2011. In fact, Bengals quarterbacks have only completed 46.3% of their passes to Green over the years whenever Haden was covering him.
After going through all the games both Haden and Green have played against each other dating back to 2011, I have charted the Bengals wide receiver as catching 19 total passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns when Haden was covering him. Those receiving numbers, however, include 41 total targets of which two of the pass attempts were batted down by a Browns defensive player at or near the original line of scrimmage. In case you’re scoring at home, Bengals quarterbacks have a 79.6 rating dating back to 2011 when they targeted Green with Haden covering him. If you were to remove that blown coverage touchdown, that rating dips down to 66.9.
The two touchdowns that Green has scored with Haden covering him were long ones, 41 and 57 yards, and you can see the all-22 of both plays below. You will notice that the first touchdown that Haden gave up to Green was a result of a blown coverage, or more specifically, a result of the Bengals offense snapping the football prior to the Browns defense being lined up. In short, you really can’t fully blame that one on Haden.
Haden was credited with 8 total pass breakups on 22 of the incompleted passes thrown to Green and that includes one interception, which was returned 29-yards for a touchdown by the cornerback.
In case you’re curious, Green has caught 6 of 14 deep pass attempts thrown his way for 224 yards and two touchdowns with Haden in coverage. Additionally, Green has caught 13 of 27 short pass attempts against Haden for 99 yards and zero touchdowns.
While it didn’t happen a ton over the years, Haden would occasionally line up against Green on the right side of the Browns defense. Most of the time, however, he stayed on his familiar left side regardless of where Green lined up.
Ahead of the 2017 regular season getting underway, Green named Haden as one of the five toughest cornerbacks he’s faced so far during his NFL career. In fact, he had Haden ranked second-overall with only Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson listed ahead of him. Here is what Green wrote about Haden:
Two things come to mind when I think about Joe. One, this guy has got the longest arms I’ve ever seen on a corner his size. I remember the first time I lined up across from him in college, I looked down and his fingers were almost touching his ankles. He’s dangerous because he’s only 5′ 11″, but he’s got a surprisingly long reach. Two, this guy has four brothers. You know a guy is going to be super competitive when he’s got four brothers. When you line up against Joe, he’s going to be laying hands on you all day. He’s going to initiate contact off the line with a quick stab to try to throw off your timing, and then try to ride your back hip the whole way.
Sunday in Pittsburgh, it will be interesting to see if Haden follows Green around as that’s really something he hasn’t done since signing with the Steelers. The Bengals like to move Green around quite a bit and that includes occasionally putting him in the slot. In short, we can probably expect to see Steelers second-year cornerback Artie Burns line up against Green some on Sunday.