Marshall Faulk: Tis the season: Reach out and give a warm compliment to this week’s opponent. But keep it Professional Grade. This is your chance to tell the other team "I like the way your face looks…when you throw an interception." Or maybe "Thanks for making us feel right at home…in the end zones." Let’s see what you’ve got. Be creative.
We're running out of ideas here.
But if we're going to offer a backsided compliment for the Cleveland Browns, then we're going to love the way that cornerback Joe Haden reacts when A.J. Green FINALLY goes off against the Browns. Disregarding the generic statistical reference of Green's production against the Browns and applies that as "Haden production", we look at others.
According to PFF, in the six games Green and Haden have gone at it, Haden has covered him on 31 targets and given up 16 catches for 300 yards and more than 18 yards per catch. But he’s only allowed him two TDs and minimal yards after catch.
And per ESPN:
In the past two Bengals-Browns games, Green has been held to just 30 yards on five catches and 15 targets while matched up with Haden, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In their six meetings, Haden also has held Green to three or fewer catches four times. Green's receptions percentage (the average the number of catches per target) is significantly lower when facing Haden, too. Versus Haden, his receptions percentage is 46.9 percent. Overall, it's 58.2 percent.
Haden allowed only 23 yards receiving on three receptions during Cincinnati's 24-3 loss to the Browns on Thursday Night Football. There are some arguing that Haden, who signed a five-year extension worth $68 million (with $45 million guaranteed) is the best corner in the NFL, or at least in the conversion.
"He's definitely found his groove,'' said Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil earlier this month. "I think he's the best corner in football. If you look at his last month, he's gone against Vincent Jackson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Sammy Watkins, Andre Johnson. He's played pretty damn well against those receivers. Obviously we're counting on him. We're going to need him to play at that level to win football games this last quarter of the season.''
According to PFF, Haden has allowed 53 completions this year, a 53.5 percent completion rate, 667 yards receiving, four touchdowns and forced three interceptions for an opposing passer rating of 75.6.
Green, on the other hand, is coming off a career-high 224 yards receiving against the Steelers last week on 11 receptions and an 81-yard touchdown.
"The confidence is back," quarterback Andy Dalton said via ESPN. "When the plays have been there, he's made them. He's made big catches, big runs after catches, big plays. That's the type of player he is, so you've got to keep giving him these opportunities to make these big plays."
Now he has to do it, arguably, against his biggest nemesis, since college, when the two battled in the SEC.