Browns cornerback Joe Haden has gone from the brink of a Pro Bowl bid to wondering whether he’ll even be able to finish this season.
Although Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said X-rays were negative, Haden insisted he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play Sunday when the Browns (4-10) visit the New York Jets (6-8) because the hip pointer he suffered this past weekend during a 38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears is causing him significant pain. With only two games remaining, there’s a possibility he won’t play again until next season.

“If I can play, I’m going to play,” Haden said Monday. “If I can’t, I won’t. So I would love to definitely finish out the season and play. But I’m not going to go out there if I’m not ready or if I’m going to hurt the team in any way.”

Four weeks ago, Haden appeared to be in prime position to earn the first Pro Bowl selection of his career, though he’s no longer considered a lock after allowing a touchdown in each of the past four games. His decline has been emblematic of the entire team.
The Browns have blown fourth-quarter leads in each of the past three games. In those losses, their opponents have scored during eight out of nine fourth-quarter possessions, including six touchdowns. For the past two months, the meltdowns have also been frequent at the end of the first half. In seven of the past eight games, the Browns have allowed points in the last two minutes before halftime, surrendering a total of nine scoring drives and 43 points.

“We’re not playing at our best level,” said Haden, the team’s undisputed No. 1 cornerback. “I’m not playing at my best level. I’ve got to do better. I can do better, and we will do better. It’s just we’ve got to step up and start making plays, and when we get those leads, don’t try to do too much, just do your job, do what got you to that position. That’s all we’ve got to do because we’ve played good at the beginning of the games. It’s just always right before half or in the fourth quarter or the end, I think we’re trying to do a little too much.”

Breakdowns in clutch situations are a major reason the Browns are in the midst of a five-game losing streak and have double-digit losses for the sixth season in a row. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders have suffered 10-plus losses in more consecutive seasons. According to STATS LLC, the Buccaneers did it in 12 consecutive seasons (1983-94) and the Raiders in seven (2003-09).