Haden: Mayfield is a Competitor

Steelers CB with high praise for Browns QB

Josh Rowntree
October 25, 2018 - 1:34 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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At last, the Browns may have a quarterback. Baker Mayfield appears to be the guy in Cleveland. For now. 

No one in the Pittsburgh locker room knows more about he ineptitude of Cleveland’s quarterback play than Joe Haden, who watched 14 — yes, 14 — starters take snaps for the Browns in six years in Northeast Ohio. 

But Mayfield, the top overall pick, has electrified the Cleveland fan base, leading the Browns to an actual win.

“It’s still super early for him,” Haden said of Mayfield. “We’re still just getting tape on him. I haven’t really seen him. I know he’s a competitor, I know he likes to get after it. You can tell by the way he plays, with a lot of emotion.”

From Austin Davis to Johnny Manziel, to Thad Lewis, Haden saw a litany of signal callers. 

“If you start winning games, just the energy and everything starts feeling better, because you do have really good players,” Haden said. “I think that can help them, mentally.”

Mayfield took over for Tyrod Taylor, the dual-threat quarterback who led the Browns in rushing in week one, passing for a touchdown and rushing for another in the 21-21 tie in Cleveland. 

“Tyrod, he scrambles to run more than Baker scrambles to pass, with eyes down the field,” Haden said. “(Mayfield) does a really good job of anticipating and throwing into small windows.

“It’s going to be different, having Baker out there instead of Tyrod. So we’ve just do what we’ve got to do, making sure we’re communicating, making sure we’re on our X’s and O’s, making sure we’re tackling and not beating ourselves.”

Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, shares some of the same thoughts on Mayfield. 

"He’s a young guy, but he’s a spirited guy," Butler said. "He gives them some good spirit and is peppy and excited about playing. I think he’s a real competitor for them. So he’s going to bring that to the game. They’ll be a tough opponents. Always are."

While Mayfield has given the team an offensive shot of life, the team has made some fairly significant changes. The top run Ning back from the opener, Carlow Hyde, was just traded to Jacksonville. One of the game’s most dynamic — but troubled — receivers, Josh Gordon, was traded to the Patriots. 

“That’s going to be a big change,” Haden said. “(Gordon) was a very, very dynamic player for them. I think that’s going to bring more passes to (Jarvis) Landry, (David) Njoku and (Antonio) Callaway’s been able to step up and he’s a deep threat guy.”

The luxury of seeing a team twice, for Pittsburgh’s defense, may not come into play as much with all of the changes. 

It will also be interesting to see how Cleveland’s offense is executed Sunday, as Browns coach Hue Jackson was openly critical of offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

“I don’t know what they’ve got going on over there,” Haden joked, when asked who he thinks will call offensive plays. “We’ll see when we get there.”

Hear all of what Joe Haden had to say below.