Browns: Time is key for the secondary
It’s the Cleveland Browns’ first season under head coach Mike Pettine, and it’s taken the defense a little while to settle. It was much the same at Pettine’s previous stop, as defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills’ secondary was slow to respond to Pettine’s tutelage, they combined for a -15.3 overall grade in the first half of last season, before they turned it around with a combined +22.6 grade for the second half of 2013.
After a similarly rocky start, the Browns’ secondary seems to have reached it’s turning point a little earlier in the season, with a cumulative -12.3 grade for the first four games, compared to a +30.6 grade since. That improvement that has been most visible through the changing fortunes of cornerback Joe Haden.
Through the first five games, Haden had conceded 21 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns, allowing 1.65 Yards per Cover Snap, 61st among starting corners. In the four games since Haden has conceded 15 receptions for 127 yards and zero touchdowns; his 0.75 Yards per Cover Snap is ninth-best among corners in that period. It’s crucial for the Browns’ playoff hopes that Haden and the rest of the secondary maintain their impressive form.