The clock is ticking on Haynesworth

Last week, new Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett discussed the ongoing absence of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, telling the Washington Post, “It’s not right. It’s just the way it is.”

Classic coach speak, but very truthful. However, something that needs to be examined is the actual amount of time Haynesworth is missing in the classroom and on the field — in teaching sessions.

If Jim Zorn were still running OTAs and voluntary minicamps out in northern Virginia, I wouldn’t see this as a story. The club would hope that Haynesworth would eventually show up on time for training camp — preferably in football shape — and assume his role as a 3-technique defensive tackle in Washington’s 4-3 front under former defensive coordinator Greg Blache.

Except, Mike Shanahan is running the show now, the ‘Skins are transitioning to a 3-4 front and new defensive scheme under Haslett, and when Haynesworth does finally decide to show up, he will be as worthless as a rookie when it comes to the playbook.

I have written about OTAs before, and I am not a big fan of calling out players for missing sessions. But when a new system and playbook is installed in the spring, act like a pro and do your job. Why? Because coaches don’t want to waste valuable meeting time during training camp. NFL coaches are always looking forward, so having to go back and sit down — with a veteran of all people — and teach him the playbook in August?

Get real. That is standard procedure for rookie first-round holdouts that show up late with a new check in their pockets. Not a player that is already under contract.

But, that is exactly what is going to happen in Washington if Haynesworth continues to stay away — because the Redskins don’t have any other options.

Haslett hit on this when he talked about the “individual time and work” it will cause when the DT finally shows up. What the former Rams head coach is describing is assigning a position coach — or Haslett himself — to use the time in between practices, at night after position meetings, and during the small amount of free time (which is about one hour a day) to sit down and teach their big-money DT how to line up, how to take on blocks and where he fits in the run front.

And, those are just the basics of this system, which were taught on the first day of the offseason program.
More importantly, this could have an effect on the entire defense. There is nothing that rubs a veteran worse than seeing one of his teammates continually bust on the field. We aren’t talking about guys making plays, but instead, playing within the scheme of the defense — or accountability.

We all know that Haynesworth wants out of Washington. But, do you see any way that happens? Probably not, and these two are stuck with each other for what looks like at least one more season in 2010.

Haynesworth can be a dominant player in any defensive front. But, if he struggles to catch up with the rest of his teammates this August when it comes to the actual defense he is playing in, he will make everyone take a step back.

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