Chargers’ Hayward needs to get the respect he deserves
By Matt Pagels
What else does Casey Hayward need to do to prove he’s an elite cornerback in the NFL?
Ah, the popular catchphrase mouthed by the late Rodney Dangerfield. It also applies to Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward.
You wouldn’t think so because of how well he’s played since joining the Chargers as a free agent in 2016. A year after leading the NFL in interceptions and dominating in other categories, Hayward became Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked cornerback in 2017, allowing a league-best 42.7 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught. Over the past two seasons, Hayward leads the NFL with 11 interceptions and 42 pass deflections.
And because of his play and demeanor, he’s helped the Chargers’ pass defense rank among the best in the league. Last season, the unit finished third against the pass, as well as allowed just one receiver (Raiders’ Amari Cooper) to finish a game with 100-plus receiving yards.
But with all that said, Hayward really doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Is it because he’s a Charger and his team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2013? Is it because he isn’t the fastest player on the field? He’s advanced in every other way and has a legitimate case for being the best corner in the game right now.
But outside of Chargers fans, many forget to add his name to the list of top corners. He missed out on being a first-team All-Pro and was voted outside the top 50 by his peers on the NFL’s ‘Top 100’ list for the second straight year.
And recently on Twitter, Hayward was in a battle with NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks stemming from comments made by Brooks last year when he called Hayward a “system CB instead of a “star CB.” We actually talked about the topic when Brooks published the piece.
In short, Hayward tweeted at NFL Network and Brooks telling fans not to listen to Brooks when he was breaking down the two cornerbacks in the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft. A guest on The Jim Rome Show, Brooks responded by praising Hayward’s game but also saying that Hayward’s coaches (past and present) told Brooks that Hayward is built for the system he is currently in.
He also responded to the critics on Twitter saying that he wasn’t dismissing Hayward’s talent in the article but that he “offered him up as an example of a player’s talents being a perfect fit within a scheme.” Hayward respected Brooks but disagreed with him in a friendly matter.
It’s funny because Hayward showed how good he is in two different systems, one being Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme and another being John Pagano’s 3-4 scheme. And after everything that was said, Brooks has yet to call Hayward a star corner (or maybe forgot to mention it this time). Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey, who is another top player at his position, backed Hayward up:
? Tell 'em, @jalenramsey. pic.twitter.com/YiQxJBGFV9
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) July 13, 2018
All we want is for Casey to get his respect. Is that too much to ask for?