Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Need to Be the Best Player I Can Be for the Seven in Ten Plays I'm Out There For

I guess you could call that a paraphrase

So everyone is not on board. Is anyone surprised that the one that is not all in with new coach Mike Shanahan's plans and offseason regimen is defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth?

I will go ahead and give you the bottom line up front, the BLUF as my brother the writer Marine calls it: prima donna with guaranteed money coming has no motivation to subordinate his ego to the team dynamic.

First it was the musings, the random comments that perhaps in this slow motion transition from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 base defense, a scheme the Redskins have never ever run, Albert thought Albert was not the right fit at nose tackle, that he was not quote built to be a nose tackle unquote.

Actually Albert, at six feet six inches and 350 pounds, not 330 or 340 as he self reported (op. cit.), you would happen to be built exactly like a nose tackle. Whether you can play the position is a legitimate question. A nose tackle in the 3-4 lines up in the zero technique, right across from the center and occupies two or three offensive linemen. A hold the line guy so the more athletic players can get through or around to make a play.

Young Albert envisions himself running all over the place, creating havoc and keeping the offensive line off balance, in fact when he first came on board the immediate conventional wisdom was that maybe he should be allowed to do just that.

The same day there was also a Remember Dana Stubblefield piece in the Washington Post, Dana was an overpaid guy that came from a great 49ers team and never lived up to his contract and is now universally recalled as a Redskins failure.

Last season, Albert's first in Washington, after some initial misgivings about how he would fit into then defensive coordinator Greg Blache's strict assignment based scheme, Albert made the transition; less than a month before the season Albert even said last year's Redskins line of Andre Carter, Cornelius Griffin, Phillip Daniels and himself was the best line he had ever played on.

How did it all work out in 2009? Well between occasional flashes of domination Albert kind of came and went. From the start of the season he spent a lot of time on the turf watching the sky or limping off to catch his breath. He seemed to be poorly conditioned, if unable to play a full NFL game is considered poor conditioning. He only appeared in twelve games, or seventy five percent of the schedule.

Thirty seven tackles and four sacks last season, there may have been an Albert Haynesworth Halo Effect when he was out there and effective, if there was it was exactly that: a halo effect of the exact type from which the team would hope to benefit if Albert could get in the trenches and strain against the middle blockers, take away center running lanes and push the pocket back from the center.

He's a nose tackle, play him that way, maybe with less running around he will not need to take so many in game smoke breaks.

Then it was the offseason conditioning, Mike Shanahan was pretty open about how his offseason workouts are VINO, Voluntary In Name Only, he wants everyone to buy in, with no performance expectations this season and no salary cap and a new real actual general manager in Bruce Allen, coach Shanahan will only play the players he wants, the ones that earn it.

Except for Albert Hanyesworth. Albert is guaranteed twenty one million dollars next month and despite the wild west of the no salary cap era, the team does not want to waste money and like all other teams may be concerned about retroactive cap penalties from this season when we resume with a new cap in a year or two.

So Albert is tenured and gets to do whatever he wants, including train and condition on his own. Albert will not be participating in the team's offseason conditioning program, he says he needs to do this, to get back to being the premier tackle in the league which I guess is an admission that he was not last season and for good measure Albert also throws former coach Jim Zorn and the team's offseason conditioning program from last season, in which he participated, even further under the bus.

For my part, I was unhappy back in the Joe Gibbs II days when Sean Taylor and Shawn Springs and Santana Moss and Clinton Portis all worked out on their own, it makes those hamstring pulls and that tendinitis and that torn abdomen seem more preventable with a professional staff overseeing but that said I always thought the Joe Gibbs regime had a cookie cutter approach to offseason conditioning and not one focused on an individual player and individual positions. So I guess maybe it was a wash. With Jim Zorn who knows who was really in charge of that program.

But with Mike Shanahan I will wager he has everything laid out for each player and for each position. Telling coach that you respect him but will not be there for the team's first taste of how he does things just serves to push you away.

You better come back a lean 350 and ready to do whatever the hell the team wants.

Albert Haynesworth heading off the field in a football game, he would come back after a blow: Getty Images from here.