It’s a pretty bad sight when the boldest declaration that a leader on your team can make is that you will one a game before the season is over, but that is what Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden stated on Thanksgiving, according to Mary Kay Cabot. “We have five weeks left and we’re not going winless”, she quoted him as saying.
That is not exactly the loftiest or most ambitious of goals, but when you manage to lose your first 11 games, I suppose, the expectations narrow. And perhaps the saddest part about this declaration was the fact that it wasn’t the first time a Browns player vowed that they would win a game.
That is what Christian Kirksey said after the Browns got shellacked by the Cowboys, 35-10. He even went so far as to predict that they would get on a roll, but since then, they have only managed to lose to the Steelers, and, coming out of a bye, now get to face the 7-3 Giants.
Speaking of which, Haden is going to have his hands full with New York’s wide receivers, chief amongst them obviously Odell Beckham Jr., but also impressive rookie Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, the latter of whom is getting back to health after missing a game due to injury.
Beckham, of course, is the focal point, and he leads the team in all receiving categories with 49 receptions for 819 yards and six touchdowns, but Shepard’s production is not to be overlooked, as he has caught 44 balls for 476 yards and five touchdowns.
Haden has never gone up against Beckham before, since the Giants have not played the Browns until now since the former entered the league. But the two did meet at the Pro Bowl once. He has certainly seen the tape, however.
“He is very quick”, Haden said of Beckham. “He judges the ball well”. He added, “once he gets the ball in his hands, he is incredible with yards after the catch”—as the Ravens can attest to quite well, since he recorded a huge touchdown at the end of that game from distance against them to win.
In spite of the fact that he has dealt with a number of health issues in recent years, Haden still believes he is playing well, saying, “I feel like I shouldn’t really let people catch the ball at all”. He did add, “I’m not really 100 percent out there so I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do”.
Even though he said that he doesn’t feel as though his injuries have allowed him to play to the best of his abilities, he has continued to play through the pain to “lead by example” for his young teammates. “I want to do it for them”, he said. “You got to suck it up, you got to do what you got to do to go to try and get this thing turned around”. Will they get it turned around—meaning, win one game? Time is running out.