Joe Haden: Looking To Take The Next Step

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Joe Haden Browns Training camp
Browns Joe Haden at camp
Photo by Ed Runyon

For Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden, this past offseason has been invaluable for him personally.  He enters his 4th year in the NFL since being drafted by the Browns with the 7th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Joe played for the Gators at the University of Florida, where he became the first true freshman in Florida history to start at cornerback in his first career game.  As a freshman he also earned Freshman All-America first-team and SEC All-Freshman.  He went on to start all 40 career games at the University of Florida (2007-09).

He has steadily made progress each season with the Browns and become a consistent lockdown corner that Cleveland has needed.

In his rookie season, Joe played in all 16 games starting 7 of them, with 6 INT’s overall.  He had a stretch of 4 straight games with an INT, and became the first Brown to do so since Ernie Kellerman in 1968.  In the month of November he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month after registering 15 tackles, seven passes defensed and three interceptions. He had a team-best 18 pass breakups, a sack and a forced fumble on defense.

In 2011 while not recording an interception, he also led team with 19 passes defensed, a figure that ranked sixth in the NFL and fourth in the AFC.

Joe Haden Browns at Pittsburgh 2
Joe Haden Browns at Pittsburgh

2012 wasn’t the start Browns fans were hoping for from Joe, as he had to serve a 4 game suspension after the first game with the Eagles. During that time he was suspended without pay by the NFL for violating the policy on performance-enhancing substances. In addition to losing $1.356 million in game checks, he also would not be eligible for the Pro Bowl. When he returned, he recorded 10 passes defensed and 3 INT.

This offseason, there were a lot of changes in Berea, with new ownership, front office executives, and coaching.  And perhaps an even bigger change came from within Joe Haden himself.  No one has ever disputed his talent, or abilities on the field.  The Browns are a different team with him out there.  But Joe committed himself to the Browns organization, and began to soak up all that he could to become the type of player he wants to be, and the type of leader the Browns want, and see in him.

Pro Player Insiders was able to talk to Joe one on one and ask him what fans can expect to see from him in 2013.

PPI:  What does it mean to you to have your Head Coach be someone that is an Ohio native that grew up as a Browns fan?

Joe Hayden:  It’s meant a lot, because he has a lot of passion. We can tell in the way he coaches us. He’s a really, really good coach, and he’s a players’ coach. The door’s always open and he’s easy to relate to. He listens to the players and we listen to him, and he has everybody on the teams’ respect People can tell fake people, our coach, he’s a real dude, we really like him and he makes you wanna play even harder for him.

PPI:  What type of goals have you set for yourself this season?

Joe Haden autographs for fans Browns
Joe Haden signs autographs for fans
Photo by: Ed Runyon

JH:  To be the best I can.  To ball out, I want to be an elite corner, top 5 in the league for sure.  I think doing this extra work, putting in the extra work and working hard in the offseason, studying with the coaches, trying to become a leader of the team.  I just want to be a leader and just help the team win some games.

When you observe Joe this offseason, you can see he’s doing just that.  He’s having an impact on others in the secondary, and making sure that he’s there for rookie 2nd round pick CB Leon McFadden.  We asked Leon how Joe has helped him this training camp.

PPI:  How has Joe helped you to progress?

Joe Haden Collage Browns
Cleveland Brown’s Joe Haden
Photo by Ed Runyon

Leon McFadden:  He’s definitely helped me to progress, understanding the playbook and understanding the type of defense that Coach Ray (Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton) is running with us, also just different techniques that he uses in his game that intertwine with mine.

During the preseason, Haden stands out at practice right away.  He’s making play after play in one on one drills, being vocal, leading by example.  It’s easy to see that he’s well on his way to becoming the type of leader the Browns need to turn the corner and become a contender within the AFC NORTH.

He’s definitely taking the next step to becoming one of the NFL’s elite corners that he’s envisioned for himself.  Browns fans can be confident that mentally, he’s already taken that next step.

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