Home > NFL > Last Second Audibles: Haynesworth

Last Second Audibles: Haynesworth

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The Washington Redskins are ready to compete for a division title in the crazy competitive NFC East.  To do it, they’ll need to get more out of a defense that always seemed to be better at limiting yards than points despite a league-best red zone defense and second best defense in short yardage.  The Redskins simply have shown an aversion to defensive turnovers going back to 2006.

Former coordinator Greg Blache wasn’t exactly eager to break that trend.  He was more concerned with the big plays his unit continued to give up, the only exciting things that ever happened while the Redskins defense took the field were massive coverage gaffes from a team that played zone coverage though it appeared had never been taught.

Try this stat: teams in the NFL average about 3.2 defensive scores per season (at least in 2009).  The Redskins did not have a defensive score in 2009.  They did not have a defensive score in 2008.  They had a pair of scores in 2007.  They did not have a score in 2006 (this year, at least, they had a pair of special teams returns from Rock Cartwright and Antwaan Randle El).  That trend will reverse itself whenever the Redskins bother to start practicing turnover returns.  The lack of practice reached a hilarious climax when three Redskins failed to block Robert Meachem on an INT return, who then did what any receiver would do: he stole the football from Kareem Moore and scored a touchdown.  Obviously: bad karma for the poor play that Jim Zorn was about to call.

Things will be different this year if only because the Redskins are likely to stop resisting positive outcomes that happen naturally to most teams.  Or maybe not: Mike Shanahan’s first action as head coach was to publicly “disagree” with Albert Haynesworth’s decision to work out on his own this offseason.  After a saga that played nicely into the hands of a local media that loves to write catchy headlines with limited to no substance, the end result of the feud between head coach and star athlete is that Haynesworth will not start, but he will play in Sunday’s showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.

Part time quarterback and full time voice of reason Donovan McNabb is one of two voices, along with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who is pointing out the obvious: you’ve once again mortgaged the future for the present.  And right now, your present is a defense that isn’t really up to speed at all the fundamental things.  The people with the most to lose (McNabb and Haslett) realize that the team needs a good Haynesworth to be successful, and that they can’t have that if they keep trying to show him up.  Shanahan has the key to the city in Washington right now, and so he’s willing to be “patient” with Haynesworth even if it costs the Redskins a game or two this year.

I appreciate Mike Shanahan’s feelings that there are good days on the horizon post-Albert Haynesworth, but this sentiment might just be empty confidence: the Redskins are elderly.  Haynesworth doesn’t have a long term future with the Shanahan-Skins, and without him, the defense will eventually decline to below average levels without more investment on defense.  And eventually, the Mike Shanahan Redskins will look something like the Mike Shanahan Broncos, because both organizations made the same mistake: they took a really good offensive mind and gave him far too much pull in the organization.

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  1. September 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

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