Kevin Jones: How jacked up is this team to prove to the entire country on NFL Network that the Cleveland Browns are for real?
Joe Haden: We are excited. But I think the hype is a lot more on the outside than it is on the inside. We are just preparing for the Bengals like it's another game. We know it's a division opponent. We know that they are a very, very talented team. We are going to have to play really, really well if we want to win. Everyone's just back in here getting the film ready because it's a short week. We'll cram in the film and get out there and be ready to win.
Kevin Jones: As a player who has seen all types of struggles throughout your years in Cleveland, why is this team 5-3?
Joe Haden: We are making plays at the end of games. We're just finding ways to win. We have people that coach says 'When your number is called' people are making big plays, making big stops, making big catches. That's something that we really haven't been doing in the past. Everyone has been playing together. These are true team wins. Our will and our fight, that's been the biggest thing.
*Kevin Jones: Why the quick buy-in with Mike Pettine? Other first-year head coaches struggle to grab teams some times. What's he done to make you and your teammates believe? *
Joe Haden:He came in with a plan and a scheme. Everyone saw that if we did buy in, the results we could have could be tremendous. We have a really good coaching staff. And just the players here were honestly ready to turn it around and start winning games. The coaching staff and the players had the same feeling of being tired of being looked at as a losing organization – so we wanted to change things around.
*Kevin Jones: We know Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner are true leaders. On game days what kinds of traits have you seen from them? *
Joe Haden:They definitely do a lot of leading by example. When we are on the filed they are always talking and always letting people know, even before we go out to the field, just letting players know they need to make plays. They are in people's faces, making sure people know their assignments, keeping the energy up and most importantly – making plays themselves. That's the biggest way you can be a leader. Karlos is out there making checks, making sure everybody is aligned. Donte is making sure everyone is accountable, because he's doing his thing. Being a leader your play has to speak for itself. They've done that.
Kevin Jones: What about Joe Haden as a leader? How have you helped Justin Gilbert? He's had a strong couple of weeks.
Joe Haden:I really like Justin, man. He's a really, really talented player. The only thing is I'm trying to get him to play comfortable – understanding offenses, understanding checks. Because you aren't going to be able to play to the best of your ability if you don't feel comfortable and know exactly what your job is. So my thing is to make sure he understands his job inside and out. After that, you can start making plays and not just be reactive.
Kevin Jones: Let's go back to Week 3, real quickly. Steve Smith catches a deep bomb on you and the Ravens win the game. Afterwards, you said the loss is on me. Since then, you have been ballin' out. You've been the Pro Bowl Joe Haden we all know. How were you able to return to your caliber of play?
Joe Haden: I think I did pretty good, it's just that when your number is called at the end of the game, I got to be able to make those plays. Nothing crazy. I've just been working hard and I keep fighting. I know what my skill level is. I've never doubted myself. So I've gone out and made some plays and stepped it up. Everybody has to. When your number is called you have to make the play. That's speaking for me too. I've just been locked in and just doing it.
Kevin Jones: Tonight, A.J. Green is on the docket. What types of techniques do you use against the Bengals receiver to make sure he doesn't have a big game?
Joe Haden: A little bit of everything. You know he's one of the best receivers in the game. We both bring the best out of each other. I like going against him because he definitely makes you bring your A game. I've been studying film, watching his every move. I know he hasn't been out there a lot, but it doesn't take too much for A.J. to get out there and go off.
Kevin Jones: Word association. I list one player, you tell me the first word that comes to your mind:
Joe Haden:Tashaun Gipson (Ballhawk). Buster Skrine (scrappy). Jim O'Neil (fired up). Swagger the dog (mascot).
Kevin Jones: Point blank: Is this the biggest game of your NFL career? A win here has the Browns at 6-3.
Joe Haden: It's so big. To be 6-3 and number one in the division. Especially because it's Week 10. Just being in the conversation, I haven't really been involved in anything like that. With this team, we are looking at it one game at a time. We know this is a big one and we know we need to be ready to play. It's nationally televised. We want people to be talking about us. We want to be taken seriously. This will be the game to show it.