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Joe Haden shows that, once again, he is the answer to the Steelers’ problems

It took one quarter for Joe Haden to solve a problem that always shows up when he isn’t on the field.

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers have had a problem this preseason with coverage. None of their linebackers have looked great, and they have all been beaten for good gains.

Fans touted the Joe Schobert addition as the solution to the problem, because Robert Spillane was getting torched by tight ends.

Steelers vs. Eagles, 1st quarter, 1:15
Richard Rogers is the tight end to the top of the screen. Robert Spillane is the second Steeler from the top.

Just giving up an easy 6 yards for the first down here, easy pitch and catch for the offense. That’s not winning defense.

It wasn’t just Robert Spillane either, Devin Bush got beat too.

Steelers vs. Eagles, 1st quarter, 14:10
Dallas Goedert is the tight end to the bottom of the screen, Devin Bush is the linebacker on the hash marks.

Goedert beats Bush one on one here, and turns it into a big gain. The Steelers linebackers must be awful if they can’t cover tight ends, and man, the defense is going to be in shambles. Right?

These plays may cause flashbacks to the end of last season, when Robert Spillane ended up in man coverage against Jarvis Landry.

2020 Wild Card game, 4th quarter, 14:24
Jarvis Landry is the third receiver from the top, Robert Spillane is across from him.

That’s not good. The Browns attacked the right side of the defense a lot toward the end of the game when the Steelers had recovered and gotten back into the game. Was it because of Robert Spillane being in? No. Spillane had played a lot that season, and teams hadn’t been attacking him successfully on out-breaking routes to the right side like that.

Why not?

Because those routes weren’t typically successful, they were more likely to end up looking like this one from week 12:

2020 Week 12, 1st quarter, 7:04
Joe Haden is the cornerback to the top of the screen.

Joe Haden lets his man go deep, Terrell Edmunds will pick him up, because Joe Haden sees the out route is coming and jumps in front of it for a pick-6.

In the game against the Lions, Joe Haden did it again, even with just one series of snaps.

Steelers vs. Lions, 1st quarter, 11:28
Joe Haden (#23) is the cornerback to the bottom of the screen.

As the play starts you can see Haden is watching the quarterback, he’s been a starting cornerback in the NFL for 11 years, he knows what is coming here when he sees the rollout, and right before he leaves the screen you can see him steal a peek across the field to see who is coming. He identifies the play, finds his prey, and times up his attack.

From this angle you can see that the ball is thrown behind the intended target. If it isn’t, if that ball is a yard farther to the right Haden isn’t diving after this ball, he’s catching like he did against the Ravens, and like he caught multiple picks the same way in 2019 before teams caught on and just stopped throwing these routes.

Joe Haden put this on film, reminding the entire NFL that when Haden is on the field, you aren’t going to get away with these passes, and that’s good news for the Steelers and every linebacker on the team.