I’m still waiting and wondering when Coach Shannahan and Haslett will make their public apologies not only to Albert Haynesworth, but to Redskins fans as well. All offseason we heard how Albert Haynesworth wasn’t a team player, and how he’d have to be a nose tackle and learn to play in the system, etc. We also heard how he was ‘behind’ and ‘not conditioned’, or when he came back to practice before the Colts game that he ‘didn’t know the game plan’. Well after 7 weeks it is pretty clear that all those statements aren’t true, and were just a power struggle by the team. Not only did they throw Haynesworth under the bus, but their limiting his playing time (or making him inactive all together) might have cost them a game already.
Now I know every Redskins fan hates Haynesworth, and considers him a ‘team cancer’, but let’s be honest here he hasn’t done one thing to hurt this team, with the possible exception of not keeping the dirty laundry between him and the team out of the public eye. By by the same token, the team hasn’t really defended Haynesworth as well. Haynesworth is by far the Redskins best defensive player, because his impact isn’t measured just in sacks and tackles, but what he brings to the table. He is just about impossible to block 1 on1, which was made abundantly clear when he literally threw the guard (a former 1st round pick mind you) into Jay Cutler early in the game on Sunday. That type of play is worth more than just any sack, because he set the tone for the entire defense that day, as well as got into both the guard and Cutler’s head. On some plays later in the game, the Bears would have 3 guys blocking Haynesworth. You can count the number of guys on one hand in the league that need 3 blockers to ensure they don’t interfere with a play. And on that goal line play where Haynesworth dove over the pile to ‘stop’ Cutler, there is maybe only 1 or 2 other defensive tackles in the league that might make that play. And I realize that in reality, had that play been reviewed it probably would have been a touchdown, but the fact of the matter is if not for Haynesworth’s play it wouldn’t have needed a review because Cutler would have been in the end zone and the Redskins would have lost. His effort on that play (as well as losing the challenge before) made Lovie Smith gunshy about challenging.
Now Hayneswoth haters may say that, it was just one game, and it was against a horrible offensive line etc. But I don’t hear them discrediting Orakpo’s 2 sacks against this Bears O-line, or thinking that he should not count his 4 sack game against Oakland last year since their line is awful. Really the fact of the matter is, that its not just one game, Haynesworth had a pretty big impact in the Eagles game as well, drawing penalties and making big plays. And while he didn’t get a single tackle or sack in the Rams game, he had a very good game. He was consistently double teamed (which helped lead to an Orakpo sack), and he got more penetration than the rest of the defensive linemen put together. It isn’t Haynesworth’s fault the defense didn’t make adjustments to press coverage, which allowed Sam Bradford to make his quick throws before he could be sacked. Also, on a number of crucial plays (in every game he’s been active) for some reason Haynesworth has been on the sideline. The fact that the coaching staff is using him as an example isn’t his fault. Now I know the counter argument is that Haynesworth didn’t take part in the voluntary OTA’s this offseason, but guess what the rest of the defensive line did and I don’t see them making 1/10th of the impact as Haynesworth. And no DT makes more plays down field than Haynesworth, so I’m not too sure about all the conditioning questions.
I don’t think Haynesworth is the greatest team player of all-time or that he is completely in the right. But what I do know for a fact is that he definitely isn’t completely in the wrong. He has never said that he is going to be the best team player in the league, yet somehow he is considered at fault. Haynesworth showed once again the impact he can have, when he is allowed to do what he does best…attack. Anything else and you are just wasting the talents of your best defensive player. And when Haynesworth get’s going, everyone benefits around him. Hopefully the team will stop playing these games with their star player and the Redskins can just focus on winning football games.