The Cleveland Browns handed out a rich extension to Joe Haden in the offseason because they're of the belief that the cornerback is one of the best in football.
Problem is, Haden hasn't played like it so far this season.
Haden has struggled in coverage through three weeks, most recently on the 32-yard reception by Steve Smith that set up the Baltimore Ravens' game-winning field goal Sunday. On the play, Smith -- a 14-year veteran -- easily gained separation on Haden and pulled in a perfectly thrown ball by Joe Flacco.
"It was unfortunate that it happened because we're in a bottom-line business, and Joe, for the most part throughout the game, played very well," Pettine said Monday, according to The Plain Dealer. "You can go back to the Saints game (when he gave up a 9-yard TD to Jimmy Graham). You can look at two plays and vilify Joe, but for the rest of the game he played very well. That's life in the NFL."
Pettine was blunt in his assessment of Haden's season through three games.
"He's played well at times, but as you can see, at some inopportune times he's not played well," the coach said. "I think he'll admit that, as well. That's what we talk about. The great ones are going to make big plays when it's needed, and I think that's one area where Joe will look to improve."
That sure reads like a head coach using the media as a motivational tool. As for Haden, he hits the bye week ranked 93rd out of 95 cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Flacco have had no issues going at him in crunch time.
Haden hasn't been himself. With Justin Gilbert a work in progress on the other side, the Browns can't afford a down season from their Pro Bowl star.
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