This week, Joe Haden is finally allowed to return to practice after serving a four-game suspension handed down by the commissioner for his use of the banned drug Adderall.
It is still unclear his purpose for using the drug that is usually given to people diagnosed with ADD blah blah blah.
These are the facts we were given in September. Now it’s October. Haden is back. Can we please stop talking about it now? The man is in Berea practicing his intercepting skills, so can we please talk about that for a minute?
Ok now that we got that out of the way, lets deal with some hard facts. Haden played in one game; the first game of the season. The Browns lost that game, but we were only 0-1. Since Haden left on his forced hiatus we have gone 0-4, making us a total of 0-5 on the season. This is not a good start record wise, although there have been some utterly fantastic moments including our quick 14-0 lead over the reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. As Browns fans, we can’t help but imagine how that game would have turned out had Haden been on the field. Considering that we’ve beaten the Super Bowl Champions four times in the past four years (2008 Giants, 2009 Steelers, 2010 Saints, and [in the preseason] 2011 the Packers, but preseason doesn’t really count), we constantly keep our hopes up for brighter days. Hopefully Joe Haden’s return is part of those brighter days, right?
Last year Haden was one of our top defensive players in the 2011-2012 season, and although he didn’t get sent to the Pro Bowl, we still appreciated his efforts here on the North Coast. This year, his one game was good, but not significant enough to measure what he’s going to do for the rest of the season. As part of his suspension, he is also ineligible to be invited to the Pro Bowl this year. I’m sure as negative as some Cleveland fans can be and the history we have (enter obligatory Peyton Hillis jab here), it’s only natural for some fans to worry that his lack of eligibility for public recognition will hamper him in actual games.
Personally, I would never let something get me so discouraged; I would always play my best at every opportunity, and I like to believe that all players professional players think this way too. I know this isn’t always true (enter obligatory Lebron James jab here), but the bottom line is that they’re getting paid a lot of money to win games, right? And to win you have to always play your best, right? Right. Of course.
We do have some things that we need to worry about our hope for a brighter future and a win next week. The stars aren’t completely aligning for the Browns; I know I’m just as shocked as the rest of Cleveland. On Sunday, we showed our defensive strength, and substantial inconsistencies along with some rookie mistakes. You can’t make two forward passes in one play, I know it was cool that the ball came back and Weeden caught it, but he can’t throw it again, those are the rules.
Back to the defense, Dimitri Patterson is out with an ankle sprain, so we gain a Haden, but also lose Patterson who’s been trying to keep us afloat in Haden’s absence. Our issue isn’t making plays, it’s being consistent so we can finish a game with a score higher than the opponent. This isn’t to say that the issue is completely the defense, because Weeden and Greg “Butterfingers” Little are just as much to blame, but right now Haden is back, and that’s what’s important.
A wise man once said, “Defense wins games,” and at this point I think that’s all Cleveland fans can hope for until the rookie QB gets the “rookie jitters” out. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll turn into the Chicago Bears, who (lately) have had to rely on their #1 defense to win games rather then their QB Jay Cutler who’s acting like an angsty-teenager, and no one in Cleveland wants that. We’ve had enough problems.