Last year’s obsession for the Redskins was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Under the team’s version of reality (as ratified by the league office), the Redskins carefully plotted their pursuit of Haynesworth and, without ever letting Haynesworth or his agent know that the Redskins were interested in signing Haynesworth during the period of time that he was the exclusive property of the Titans, the Redskins launched an effort to land Haynesworth at 12:01 a.m. ET on the first day of free agency, and that effort succeeded less than six hours later.
In the end, Haynesworth was signed to a big-splash $100 million contract, which in reality is worth $48 million over four years.
As expected, the man who became a stud only when he was chasing that contract has been a disappointment in the first season after catching it.
Even more predictably, he says it isn’t his fault. According to Haynesworth, the team’s defensive system bears the blame.
“If they keep this system the way it is, then they would label Albert
Haynesworth a bust who didn’t live up to the contract,” Haynesworth
told Jason Reid of the Washington Post in remarks posted by Reid earlier this morning. “Everybody would say he
just took the money and ran off. And I’m still playing as hard as I
possibly can. But you can only do so much within the system that’s put
around you. And I’m not talking about the players. The players have been great. I
couldn’t ask for any better guys. I’m talking about the system. And
[the coaches] can say whatever they want about that [the reason he was
sent home Friday]. The main thing it’s coming from is what I said after
the game about leadership and about the team.”
Haynesworth is referring to his remarks following Monday night’s 45-12 loss to the Giants. “I’ve been around these guys a lot,” Haynesworth said at the time. “I think they know how to play
football. I think we’re all just going different directions, and we
need somebody to lead us in the right direction.”
“You brought me here to make us better and to create the havoc that I
create,” Haynesworth told Reid more recently. “But you’re not letting me do the things that we did [in Tennessee].”
We’ll freely admit that we’re not experts in the esoteric aspects of interior defensive line play. But since we don’t see many defensive tackles dropping into pass coverage, we’re inclined to conclude that, regardless of whether a team uses a 3-4 or a 4-3 or a two-gap or a one-gap or a three technique or an under or an over or a big fat guy who lays down on the center, most defensive systems contemplate that the interior defensive linemen generally will, you know, create havoc.
Of course, Haynesworth is now creating havoc. But not the kind the Redskins envisioned.
And it’ll be interesting to see how this year’s Redskins obsession will deal with the situation once he’s on the job.
Then again, Mike Shanahan has ample experience when it comes to handling overpaid and overrated defensive players, given that he signed a few of them during his time in Denver. Under the Detroit Lions theory of team management, those past failures with guys like Daryl Gardener and the Cleveland castoffs will put Shanahan in perfect position to get the most out of Haynesworth.