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Cleveland Browns Should Shut Joe Haden Down

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COMMENTARY | Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden is, like the team for which he plays, having a rough month.

Haden was beat on a deep touchdown pass on a play that changed the tone and, ultimately, the outcome of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland game back on November 24. He was near tears inside the locker room after being burned by Cecil Shorts on what was a game-winning touchdown on the first day of December.

Yesterday was no kinder to the four-year pro. Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall beat Haden for a 41-yard reception with under 90 seconds left on the clock in the first half. Haden tried to make a diving interception two plays later rather than attempt to break the pass up, and the result was Marshall reeling in Chicago's first touchdown of the game.

That wasn't even Haden's worst moment of the afternoon. He left the field and made his way into the tunnel in the third quarter, and it was later learned that he had suffered a hip pointer. Haden sat out the rest of the contest.

Cleveland is, at 4-10, merely riding out the 2013 campaign. The Browns are going to finish in last place in the AFC North standings. There is zero reason to believe that this team can go on the road and beat the New York Jets or a Pittsburgh side that defeated the Browns 27-11 in Cleveland.

Haden gives it his all in every game. He has proven time and time again that he is committed to helping the Browns evolve into a winner. That goal isn't going to be achieved over the next two weeks, however, and that is why Haden doesn't need to play another down of competitive football in 2013.

The status of Haden's hip, whatever that will be come this Sunday, is irrelevant. He could certainly use the break over the next couple of weeks, to heal both physically and psychologically. You don't have to be a scout who reviews every play of every game to see that Haden is too often trying to win games all on his own.

That's admirable, certainly, but it is also leading to opposing teams putting points on the scoreboard.

Just as there is no point in quarterback Jason Campbell starting another game for the Browns this December, Cleveland has nothing to gain in putting Haden out onto the field for two meaningless games. A hip pointer can sneakily and quickly turn into a recurring concern. Don't take my word on it. Ask any professional soccer goalkeeper.

The best case scenario were Haden to play in Weeks 16 and 17 would be that he doesn't get scored upon in either contest, and that he maybe grabs a pick or two. Big deal. That's not worth risking Haden potentially worsening a lingering injury, or his possibly getting scored upon in what are almost guaranteed to be Cleveland defeats.

2013 is a lost cause for the Browns. Don't punish Haden because of it.

For more: No more Campbell, T.J. Ward deserves better, Haden a shutdown corner

Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.

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