2017 Midseason Player Evaluations: CB Joe Haden

With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off their bye week and there soon being little to talk about in the interim outside of returning players, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this season and give out some mid-year player evaluations.

The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first eight games with a 6-2 record, tied for the best in the AFC along with the Patriots and the Chiefs, the latter of whom they have already beaten.

The offense has not lived up to its billing for the most part this year, though the running game has had its moments. Defensively, the sacks have come, and the secondary has improved, but there will always be things to work on.

Player: Joe Haden, CB

I’ll just put it this way: could you imagine what this defense would have looked like through the first half of the season with Ross Cockrell still starting opposite of Artie Burns? It would have been good for Burns, who would no doubt have seen fewer targets, but they definitely would not have one of the top passing defenses in the league.

I say this as somebody who was in Cockrell’s corner through to the end—to a degree. The truth is that he really struggled quite a bit during the preseason to such a degree that could not be ignored. He played much better overall during the 2016 season.

But this isn’t about Cockrell. It’s about Haden, who has exceeded the expectations of many, including my own. If I was optimistic at all in the immediate aftermath of his initial signing, it was cautious optimism. He seemed to be damaged goods, but he has not played like it.

I think playing in the Steelers’ scheme has helped him as well, though not as much as simply being healthy again. Just off the top of my head, I’m not sure if he has even missed a snap outside of the goal line package. I don’t think he, nor Burns, have.

Now, he has not been a lockdown or shutdown cornerback by any means, but the Steelers don’t need him to be. He does enough as it is and sticks to receivers pretty well, which has helped the rush get to the quarterback more frequently this year, especially on four-man rushes.

Now there is still improvement for him as we turn to the second half of the season, and it is not unreasonable to hope for it. He didn’t have much time at all after being signed to digest the defense before he was running it.

Haden has missed some tackles that you would like to see cleaned up. I would also like to see him get the opportunity to make more plays on the ball. But for the most part he hasn’t been targeted as much as Burns has.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • #beatthepats

    High skill corner, his interception that didnt count in detroit was texbook good, hardly targeted in man coverage , best fa addition since jeff hartings, great amunition to take down brady!!!

  • Darksealer1995

    I think getting out of the factory of sadness helped him more than anything. He’s motivated to play at a high level again cause he’s on a winning team with a winning organization. There’s only so much losing you can take before you stop caring and I think thats what happened to him even if Haden never admits it. He’s been extremely good and qbs really don’t look his way and he looks so much faster than people were making him out to be.

  • Xi37

    Chiefs are 6-3.

  • dillon degroot

    Haden played hard until he was cut…Not once was there ever a lack of effort from him…The problem was that he was being asked to cover 1v1, often times with no help…He couldn’t continue to do that…Coming into a very zone heavy team has allowed him to use his intelligence and instincts more, and rely on his athleticism less.

  • Jones

    That INT didn’t count on the stat sheet, but it counted on film. Other teams are going to watch that play. Hopefully it makes a QB hesitate just enough for the pass rush to get home at some point later in the season…

  • Dirque Leyr

    Cockrell was a film guy. He did well because he prepared well. In training camp, film study is not a recognizable skill that you can excel vs. your peers. So he was simply left with his athletic ability and the rote of the rep. Not his understanding of the schemes or his familiarity with his assigned man and so he was traded.

    Haden was definitely an upgrade but I have to acknowledge that Cockrell wasn’t in a position to show his strengths.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    b grade.

  • hdogg48

    All Time Best free agent signings by the Steelers
    1. Kevin Greene
    2. James Farrior
    3. Joe Haden

  • Scunge

    Jeff Hartings, Ryan Clark both made the Pro Bowl and have to be 3 and 4 on you list. Also, Kimo Von Olehoffen and DeAngelo Williams were great free agent pickups and I compare Haden to them.

  • nutty32

    AJ Green was right; he does have some freakish long arms. Like that Sikh fighter in the greatest kung fu movie of all time, ‘Maser of the Flying Guillotine.’

  • Steve Johnson

    I was just getting ready to reply with Kimo as well. That guy was a force on the Defensive Line.

  • siouxcitysmitty

    I’m thinking the Bus might make that list.

  • Billy Byrnes

    To be fair, Jerome was acquired via trade, not as FA.

  • NinjaMountie

    Couldn’t be more than happy with this signing. I told my friends I’d be happy if we got 80% of the old Haden. We’ve gotten that and then some. If he is able to stay healthy he will be worth every penny he’s paid and then some. I hope we win him a SB so he can hold it over all of his old Cleveland friends.

  • Steve

    Good catch, that needs updated.

  • Iulo

    I haven’t seen any Giants game so far this season.
    How is he doing there?
    is he already an starter or relegated to the backups?

  • razaard2

    Facts. Preseason is all about athleticism, doesn’t translate to real competition 100%
    Cockrell was never bad. He had some remarkable games, including shutting down aj green. But haden is in another league

  • razaard2

    Oh man if haden climbs up that list, we will have some fun years ahead

  • Dirque Leyr

    He’s doing okay. He’s third or 4th on the depth chart-subbing for either DRC or Eli Apple. But the Giants are a mess this year.

  • Abed Medawar

    I think the best is yet to come with him now that he’s comfortable in our d and overall happy. My biggest worry in pass d heading into playoffs ia 23. Just think we need much more from that position than what he gives us and unless our pass rush is effective against NE Brady will eat him alive, again.