Saturday, December 26, 2009

"I disagree with their whole scheme."

Boy no one could have anticipated this (not)

The end stage of Washington's 2009 season began in earnest today, a star player who expressed unsurprising frustration following an epic blowout is now attacking the entire coaching staff and has said he cannot see himself getting through another NFL season if there are not big changes on the team.

Yesterday as I drove home with my family after Christmas dinner with my parents featuring the original Redskins fan named Ben Folsom and roast chicken with sun dried tomato and goat cheese, I heard on WTOP that a Redskin had been sent home from practice, it was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, I came home and wrote this piece last night wherein I speculated that Albert was sent home yesterday for tardiness not because he violated a team policy and not because the Redskins had suddenly transformed after fourteen games into some bastion of discipline and schedule keeping, but rather because Albert had dared to say what everyone inside and outside Redskins Park has known for at least ten games:

This team has no leadership.

If we are to believe Albert, who spoke with the Washington Post's Jason Reid after being sent home, I was exactly right, this does not make me a genius, is simply makes me able to see and interpret the very obvious.

Back in February of this year, immediately following Albert Haynesworth's free agent signing with the Redskins, the Washington Post's Jason La Canfora, since departed for NFL Network, wrote a terrific piece on Albert and what he might mean for Greg Blache's rigid defensive scheme, how the Redskins may benefit from letting Albert freelance, and if that word freelance makes you uncomfortable, let us replace it with the word play, for that is allegedly the word the Redskins used in contract negotiations with Albert, negotiations that ultimately led Albert to sign with the team for one hundred million dollars. From Jason Reid's piece:

"What [team officials] told me in the early hours of February [27] is that, 'We're going to let you play,' " Haynesworth said of Washington's sales pitch on the first day of free agency.

The piece also focused on the frustrations felt for years by Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn at trying to reel Albert into the system the coaches wanted to implement. Finally the team relented and gave Albert basically free reign to attack as he saw fit, basically just trying to push through on every play. Also relevant to this piece was defensive end Jason Taylor's frustrations with and lack of production when healthy in Greg Blache's scheme.

So this was not entirely unforseen.

Albert does not believe the coaches have let him quote play unquote, he thinks he has been misused this season and believes defensive coordinator Greg Blache is out of touch, old, autocratic and not open to input from players, even star players.

Further, Albert specifically called out his postgame comments Monday (op. cit.) as the prime motivator behind his dismissal from practice yesterday after being what he said was twenty minutes late. Further, the notion that dismissal is a regular punishment consistent with tardiness is total bullshit and simply thin cover for anger on the part of the coaching staff. From Jason Reid's piece:

Haynesworth acknowledged he was "about 20 minutes late getting to the meeting. I was late. I'll pay the fine. The thing that doesn't make any sense to me, they're talking about disciplinary action because I was 20 minutes late? I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but I've seen guys two hours late, show up right before practice on a normal day, and they get to do everything and [the coaches] just respond with, 'Whatever.' This is like the second time I've ever been late. In the preseason, I fell asleep and was like a couple of minutes late for a meeting. This is the second time I've ever been late for a meeting and I get sent home."

Haynesworth believes that Zorn used his tardiness as an excuse to discipline him because of the coaching staff's anger about his recent biting postgame comments. "They're all against me or whatever," he said. "But I know what I'm saying is right because I've been in a scheme that works."

So let us recap: team signs Albert by sweet talking that they will let Albert be Albert, at least one respected football mind warns he may not fit the current scheme, the team tanks, Albert attempts to express concerns and provide input, is rebuffed, things come to a head on Monday Night Football, Albert lets loose that he has been misused, expressing worry that he will be seen as a failure if he cannot play his game, four days later shows up late for practice, is sent home, gets with the media, calls bullshit on tardiness as the reason for being sent home and worries aloud that he might not be able to take another year of this without change.

I am not taking Albert's side on this, he is a prima donna and is shaping up to be one of those guys whose problems are always someone else's fault. I am sure there is a team viewpoint and book on the whole thing as well, it is not relevant, what is relevant is that it has come to this, that the dirty laundry is being aired so publicly, that no one seems to have any decorum any longer, the players and coaches are now transparently hostile to one another.

Don't worry Albert, change is coming, I just hope you can deal with it, quit trying to be bigger than the team and go play some football and let's talk again in January.

Albert Haynesworth: Getty Images from here.