Since the Andy Dalton era began, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are two franchises that have been heading in opposite directions. While the Bengals haven't had the postseason success in the past couple of seasons, they have been a solid regular season team and have seemingly passed the Steelers in the perennial head-to-head race for the division crown with the Baltimore Ravens.
Where the Bengals have shown surprising stability since that gloomy offseason heading into 2011, the Browns have been in a constant state of disarray. Quarterback carousels, multiple coaching changes, and general roster upheavals have ensued and it has become the formula for the Browns not sniffing a winning season since 2007. Yet, through all of this, the Browns still give their AFC North foes plenty of fits--particularly their big rival in the Bengals.
A large contributor to some of the brighter Browns moments in the last few years is fourth-year cornerback, Joe Haden. After becoming a top-ten pick, Haden has had nine interceptions, two sacks, three forced fumbles and 192 total tackles in just over three years of NFL service. He is a physical corner who gives many receivers a hard time, including Bengals Pro Bowler, A.J. Green.
When speaking to the local media on Thursday about the forthcoming latest installment of "The Battle of Ohio", Haden praised the Bengals and their current direction. He also noted that his own team seems to be lacking their own identity and have been struggling with that since he was drafted.
Haden on Bengals: "They're special. They're starting to get it. We're trying to get somewhere. They're starting to get somewhere."— Steve Doerschuk (@sdoerschukREP) September 26, 2013
These comments follow the praise that he gave to Green earlier this offseason, in which Haden called him a "freak" and "a great player. It's nice to have the respect of a quality player within the division, but the Bengals need to take care of business with a game that they should win on Sunday in Cleveland. That will be a good barometer on if Cincinnati is truly "getting it" and if they are "getting somewhere", as Haden believes.