We received a request earlier this week to do something on one of the newest Pittsburgh Steelers, cornerback Joe Haden, and how he has been performing, considering that the team’s cornerbacks haven’t exactly had the most high-profile spotlight through four games.
I figured I would try to tackle that here, looking as some of Haden’s play from the second half of the Ravens game on Sunday. I admit that I don’t know the secondary and their assignments as well as I know other areas of the game, but I think I know enough to provide an overview of the game.
The first play I’ll look at is the touchdown pass to Mike Wallace. The Ravens did a good job here of stressing the Steelers’ coverage with their route pattern set up on the right side. From the all-22 view, you can see how they branch and stretch the coverage. Joe Flacco was able to get Sean Davis to bite on the seam route, opening the lane to the corner for Wallace between the safety and Haden.
Contrary to what some might still think, the Steelers are still a predominantly zone team. Sometimes those zones leave openings like this one, again to Wallace. Given that his route was the only one in the area, I would say that Davis was again slow to react here.
Early in the fourth quarter, Haden was playing off coverage against Jeremy Maclin, running a simple out route to pick up an easy 11 yards. The Steelers had a single high safety here, so perhaps Haden was instructed to be cautious against the deep ball.
Again, the Ravens were able to stress the cornerback in coverage using combination routes, this time getting Nick Boyle open on another out route for 14 yards.
A couple of plays later, Flacco hit Buck Allen in the flat on second and five, leaving Haden in open field to make the tackle. He was able to just get a piece of his leg as he went by, but for a seven-yard gain.
Much later in the game, already with a three-possession lead, the Steelers did let Breshad Perriman get behind them in coverage, with the safety slow to rotate over the top. A better throw could have resulted in a big play here, rather than just an incompletion.
A couple of plays after that, Allen did get his missed tackle from Haden, but J.J. Wilcox was there to ride him down after three yards, again on second and five.
It should be point out that for all of the above, the Steelers had at least a two-possession lead. I don’t think Haden was actually targeted in this game outside of these zone looks. Overall, he really hasn’t been tested, so I think we still don’t know a whole lot about him right now.