Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB Joe Haden
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Joe Haden somewhat quietly had a nice game for himself against the Cleveland Browns. Though he played a role in allowing the one touchdown of the day, he also led the team with three passes defensed.
Joe Haden may not be the most obvious choice to start things out following a 38-7 performance, but he is where I want to begin, and he’s picking up where he left off last week. Haden had a big third-down pass breakout late in the Eagles game that stopped a 10-consecutive streak for Philadelphia on converting on third down, and we saw more of the same yesterday.
Early in the game, in the first quarter, it looked as though Baker Mayfield had a completion to Odell Beckham on third and 20 from the Steelers’ 43. But the veteran cornerback wisely read the play and was able to push the receiver out of bounds before he could get his feet down, forcing an incompletion.
He had a big pass defensed early in the fourth quarter on third and two, with Case Keenum looking for Jarvis Landry short. Haden was able to read the play and jump into the path of the ball, breaking it up. The defense then got a fourth-down stop.
He also nearly had his second interception of the game, if he were not flagged for illegal contact after trying to hold up Beckham just ever so slightly when the wide receiver pulled a double move in front of him. I felt the call could have gone either way, but it seems as the weeks advance the officials are being less conservative with the infractions.
Overall, it was a solid game for the entire defense, which held the Browns to just 5.9 yards per pass attempt with one touchdown pass and two interceptions, one by Minkah Fitzpatrick for a pick six and the other by Cameron Sutton.