For the first eight years he was in the NFL, Joe Haden arrived at training camp with relatively low expectations. As a member of the Cleveland Browns, there was little to get excited about as he prepared for a new year of football. But heading into his ninth season in 2018, Haden might be enjoying training camp more than ever before.
While he might not have wanted to leave Cleveland in the first place, he’s clearly happy with where he ended up. When speaking to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Haden was also quick to note the difference in attitude between the two franchises.
“It’s truly a blessing to be here, just with so many great players and just being able to be here with guys that understand the game, with a great coaching staff. We come here to win just championships, World Championships, that's all they talk about. . . I’ve never been on a team with this much talent and literally, singularly focused up. The only thing we talk about is a championship, it’s only football stuff we talk about here.”
“It’s a mentality, as soon as I walked in here, everybody is just legitimately focused here and ready to go. Everybody understand what we’re here for, there’s no other grey, it’s all about football, it’s all about getting better and competition.”
Having been coached by the likes of Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson in his time with the Browns, it should come as no surprise to learn that Haden much prefers playing under Mike Tomlin.
“He’s my favorite coach I’ve ever had. Not just, when you say that I’m not taking that for granted at all over the great coaches I’ve had like Coach Myers is amazing, but with Tomlin it’s a different relationship. He’s a great leader of men. he knows how to control us, he knows how to get the best out of us. He knows how to just get on you and I think that the thing I like about him, he’s just so honest. He’s going to let you know exactly where you stand and exactly what he needs from you, so there’s no grey area.”
Even with a limited knowledge of the Steelers’ defense in 2017, Haden’s presence seemed to elevate the level of play in the secondary and his absence was notable when he was lost for five games with a broken fibula. After experiencing his first training camp with Pittsburgh, there’s every reason to believe that Haden will be even more successful with the Black-and-gold this year. His goal is to understand every aspect of the defense, which will help both him and his teammates. As reported by the Associated Press and published by Cleveland.com.
”I’m trying to understand the whole defense, not just the corners and safety, but also the linebackers and defensive linemen. I’m just trying to get the whole system from the ground up and get an overall grasp of the defense.”
If communication was the Achilles Heel of the defense last year, Haden could be part of the cure in 2018.