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2011 Position Reviews, presented by Giant Eagle

Posted Feb 4, 2012

Second-year cornerback Joe Haden continued his development as a defensive back in the National Football League in the 2011 season.

Overview:

Of the three new players the Browns brought into the system through free agency prior to the 2011 season, two of them were defensive backs, safety Usama Young and cornerback Dimitri Patterson.

Young started each of the team’s last eight games at strong safety after T.J. Ward suffered what turned out to be a season-ending injury in a 30-12 loss at Houston on Nov. 6, while Patterson carved out a role as the slot cornerback.

Under the direction of veteran NFL coach/player Dick Jauron, the Browns ranked among the league’s best passing defenses in several categories.

The Browns allowed just 307 points in 2011, the fifth-fewest in the NFL. All four of the teams that allowed fewer points than the Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers (227), San Francisco 49ers (229), Baltimore Ravens (266) and Houston Texans (278) made the playoffs.

The 307 points were the eighth fewest the Browns ever allowed in a 16-game season. The Browns also finished second in net passing yards per game (184.9), third in red zone touchdown percentage (40.8), fifth in points per game (19.2), ninth in yards per play (5.1) and tenth in total yards per game (332.4).

In all, the Browns generated nine interceptions, seven of which were registered by the defensive backs, and broke up 72 passes. The secondary accounted for 57 of those 72 pass breakups.

Outstanding Performer:

Joe Haden, the team’s first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, started off 2011 with five pass breakups in the season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and was among the league leaders in that category throughout the rest of the year.

Haden and New York Jets cornerback Darelle Revis tied for the second-most pass breakups in a single game. Only Washington’s DeAngelo Hall registered more pass breakups in a single game, as he collected six in a Nov. 27 game at Seattle.

Haden finished the year with 19 pass breakups, one more than he had during his rookie season and four off of the pace set by Seattle’s Brandon Browner. Browner had 23 breakups in 2011, while Green Bay’s Tramon Williams (22), Revis (21) and Brandon Flowers of Kansas City and Baltimore’s Lardarius Webb (20) also finished in the top ten with Haden.

Key Number:

Two.

The Browns had two defensive backs, right cornerback Sheldon Brown and free safety Mike Adams, who started each of the team’s 16 games. Brown has now played in 160 consecutive games, the sixth-best total among all active defensive players.

What to Watch For:

How another year of experience will affect the Browns defensive backfield.

In addition to the pass breakups, Haden was often tasked with defending the opponent’s best receiver one-on-one for an entire game. As a rookie in 2010, he and Brown would cover whoever lined up on their respective sides of the field without much attention on matchups.

Haden played through a knee injury in the Tennessee game and missed the team’s loss in Oakland, but came back strong and made 65 total tackles, which ranked fifth on the team, forced one fumble and recovered another.

Ward showed an ability to rush the passer and registered his first career sack in a 6-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 23 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Ward, one of 12 Browns who registered at least a ½ sack in 2011, made 38 tackles and 27 solo stops before dislocating a finger and injuring his foot at the Texans.

Brown now has 23 career interceptions and has at least one takeaway in each of his ten NFL seasons. Brown is tied with Ed Reed for the fifth-longest active streak of consecutive seasons with an interception. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson (14 seasons), Denver’s Champ Bailey (13), Nate Clements of San Francisco (11) and Deon Grant of the New York Giants (11) rank ahead of Brown and Reed.

Brown also ranks third with 135 pass breakups since 2002. Only Bailey and Asante Samuel (New England/Philadelphia) have more pass breakups than Brown over that time period.

As the Browns’ starting free safety, Adams registered 61 tackles, 41 solo stops and a team best three interceptions. He also defended six passes, forced a fumble, recovered another and matched a career high with 10 tackles in a game at Pittsburgh on Dec. 8.

The Browns also got production from rookie cornerback Buster Skrine and first-year safety Eric Hagg. Skrine collected an interception at the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 18, while Hagg fought through a training camp injury, appeared in 10 games and recovered a fumble.

Position Reviews are presented by Giant Eagle. The Official Supermarket of the Cleveland Browns.