Haden told reporters that "The Ravens aren't the Ravens of old," and that remark was emailed to members on the team, according to offensive tackle Michael Oher. The Ravens (3-4) play at the Browns (3-5) on Sunday.
Do the Ravens players take offense to Haden's public assessment of them?
"He's entitled to his own opinion," Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty said. "A lot of players do a lot of talking in pro football with the media. We choose to do our talking on the field with our pads on Sunday."
Haden shouldn't call out the defending Super Bowl champions or a team that has beaten the Browns 11 straight times. It's just bad form. Along the same lines, the Ravens shouldn't be offended because Haden was making a valid observation.
With guard Kelechi Osemele out with a back injury, the Ravens will have 11 different starters Sunday from the team that won the Super Bowl nine months ago. In fact, the Ravens will have three different starters (left tackle Eugene Monroe, left guard A.Q. Shipley and linebacker Jameel McClain) than the team that beat the Browns in Week 2. It's factually correct to say these aren't the same Ravens.
More than the lineup itself, the Ravens haven't been playing like the Ravens of old. They're struggling to run the ball (they rank last with a 2.8-yard average). They're losing close games, unlike last season. And the traditionally strong defense isn't making critical stops late in games.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how people view you. It's on us to play and prove it," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "Last year, we won the Super Bowl and no one picked us to win going from Week 10 on. So, it doesn't matter what people say, whether it's your opponent or the media. We have to go out there and play ball. You obviously don't want to prove them right."
This is exactly the right perspective the Ravens should have about this. Haden's comments weren't overly inflammatory. He went on to tell reporters that the Ravens are "still really good, a real talented team, a division opponent." Still, Oher didn't appear too happy with what was said.
"Everybody got the email and everybody saw it," Oher said. "I trust in the guys upstairs. If you're in this organization as a player, you're a great player. We're here for a reason. I'm looking for great things for the future of this team in the next nine weeks."
The Ravens sent a message to the team when they cut safety Michael Huff and defensive lineman Marcus Spears after returning from the bye. But, a few day later, comments made by a division opponent may have riled up this team even more.