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Ask the cornerback what he sees when he looks for a reason to believe that this, his fourth season with the team, will be different than the last three that produced only 14 wins.
Ask him why anyone on the outside should be optimistic about what’s going on on the inside.
Haden will smile, the way he does when holding a shopping bag containing yet another addition to his incredible collection of stylish athletic footwear.
“Just the talent of the players that we have in the locker room is better than we’ve had before,” he says.
Haden is speaking from a defensive perspective, because that’s where the Browns have devoted the bulk of their efforts in revamping the roster.
They used free agency and the draft to enhance their front seven. That, alone, has brought a dramatic upgrade in personnel, and that is what has Haden feeling so optimistic.
He sees legitimate, high-end talent in newcomers such as outside linebackers
And, of course, there is Haden, one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL.
“Just, basically, the people we have on our defense can start on other people’s defense,” Haden says. “I felt, before, we always worked hard. The effort was never an issue. It was more of sometimes (the opponents) would make more plays (because) they had better athletes than us.
“But now, when I look at it, I look at our front line, they can start anywhere. Just the overall talent of our team is just a lot better than it’s been.”
The Browns have invested heavily in upgrading their coaching staff as well. Haden recognizes that. He is thrilled to have the highly acclaimed Ray Horton as his defensive coordinator, Louie Cioffi as his defensive backs coach, and the additional tutelage from assistant defensive backs coach Bobby Babich. He is impressed with their attention to the smallest of details.
“Our coaching is coaching us really well,” Haden says.
“But, at the end of the day, the players that are on that field make plays,” he says. “You have to have players to be able to play, and I think that’s what we have now.”
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