Joe Haden: Cleveland Browns have to step up

CLEVELAND -- Since being selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the closest two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden has come to a winning team was a 7-9 campaign under Coach Mike Pettine in 2014.

Other than the near .500 season, the Browns have posted a 21-68 combined record, including twin 4-12 marks (2011, 2013), two 5-11 campaigns (2010, 2012) and a 3-13 season in 2015. And with the Browns off to an 0-9 start in 2016 after a 35-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday, Haden believes it is up to the team to put the losing to an end.

“We have to stand up,” Haden said. “We have to step up. It is us. There is nobody else that can do anything but the players on the field, so we just have to play better. We have to make sure we make tackles. We have to keep the ball in front of us. We are just not playing very well right now at all, so we have to step it up.”

Although the Browns were close in four of their nine losses, they have surrendered 28 or more points in five straight games, and at least 31 points in four of the last five outings, including three consecutive contests.

Defensively, the Browns rank near the bottom of the league in key statistical categories. They have surrendered an average of 30.3 points (31st), 421.7 yards (31st) and 146.4 rushing yards (31st) through the first nine games of the season.

“It is tough,” Haden said. “It is super tough. We don’t play these games to lose. We don’t prepare during the week to lose, but it sucks. At the end of the day, though, we have another game Thursday against the Ravens. It is going to be Thursday night, and we just have to get ready for them.”

While Haden has been a part of far more losing than winning with the Browns, as a defensive captain, he knows the change starts with him heading into Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

“This is my job,” Haden said. “This is what I do. I play ball. I am a professional football player, and at the end of the day, I am going to come in every week and try to do my job at the best of my ability.

“I feel like I am one of the best corners in the league, so every week, I have to lock down receivers. That is my job. That is what I do, so no matter what is going on elsewhere, I have to do my job, and that is what I plan to do every single week.”


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