Friday, October 1, 2010

Haynesworth opens mouth, inserts foot

It's not that I don't like Albert Haynesworth. He's probably an OK guy, but he obviously believes that he's in the wrong kind of football situation (the 3-4 vs. the 4-3) and isn't happy about it. I also don't think he's being completely honest with himself, and that was evident in his "exclusive" interview on Thursday with ESPN.

Go ahead and watch the video. I did and wasn't that impressed, particularly with this portion here from the article (pardon the long quote):
"I wanted to be the greatest defensive lineman ever to play the game," Haynesworth told ESPN's Sara Walsh in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

In the time since, the Redskins have changed coaches -- from Jim Zorn to Mike Shanahan -- and defensive schemes -- from the 4-3 to the 3-4.

The change made Haynesworth hesitate before depositing the $21 million bonus check he was given April 1.

"Yeah, check sat at my house for a couple weeks before I cashed it," Haynesworth said. "I was weighing my options about what I should do. ... Do you want to take this? Do you want to commit yourself to playing a 3-4 [defense]? Do you want to go somewhere else and try again?"

Haynesworth ultimately took the money and stayed with the Redskins. But he did protest the change by skipping the team's offseason conditioning program and a mandatory minicamp.
There are several things to take away from his quotes, but let's examine two.

First, regardless of whether the check actually sat in his house for a few weeks or not, was there even a minuscule chance that Haynesworth would not cash that $21 million check? Of course not, even if the Redskins adopted Chris Cooley's 6-2 stack monster defense (which link I can't locate right now). Who would even say something like that? (There's an easy joke to be made about why he didn't get up and cash the check; I'll let you figure it out.)

Second, take a look at the last paragraph in the block quote. Haynesworth cashed the check, which, according to his own words and logic, meant that he was going to stay with the Redskins and commit to the 3-4. And then he skipped both the offseason conditioning program and minicamp, which both contradict that he was ever actually on board with the change in defenses. No one said he had to be happy with the 3-4 defense, and he's not the only one to blame in his power struggle with Mike Shanahan. The defense has also been awful, giving up lots of yards each game, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett could really use a dominant Haynesworth on the defensive line for an entire game. But not only hasn't that happened, but Haynesworth frequently stands alone on the sidelines, looking like he'd rather be anywhere else.

If Haynesworth really wanted to be the greatest defensive lineman ever, he would find a way to get the job done in any defense. But not only did he convince himself that he couldn't be effective in the 3-4, but when he did show up, he was, at the very least, out of shape and was already behind the other linemen in terms of learning the new plays and schemes.

Instead of occupying multiple blockers and making things easier for other linemen and linebackers to make plays, Haynesworth would rather be somewhere where he can make tackles and get sacks. Is he more effective in that style of defense? Yeah, probably, but that's not really the point.

He doesn't have to stay in Washington for much longer. He's only been with the Redskins for two seasons, and yet it feels like he's been here forever. Honestly, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he's with another team next season (barring a lockout, of course).

I'm just tired of the drama, and I know I'm not the only Redskins fan feeling that way. Haynesworth is tremendously talented, and it's a shame that those skills haven't been on full display in Washington -- especially since they desperately need them now. But whether Haynesworth leaves after the season or not, I'm confident in saying that they won't be losing the greatest defensive lineman ever -- not even close.

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