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This is the Albert Haynesworth we've been waiting for

On Sunday, we got our first glance of the Albert Haynesworth we've been waiting to see. Haynesworth attributed his monster game to how defensive coordinator Jim Haslett utilized him, which he said was similar to how he was used in Tennessee.

Quite frankly, I don't care why he did so well. However, I do care that, going forward, these coaches need to make sure they keep Haynesworth playing the way he did against the Bears. When he wants to play, he is hands-down the league's most gifted defensive lineman and might be its best defensive player at any position.

Haynesworth says the coaching staff took him out of Okie fronts, which are heavy fronts in which Haynesworth has to worry about holding his ground against the run. The way I interpret this is that Haynesworth wants to have the freedom to shoot gaps and get upfield. This doesn't mean Haynesworth is free of having run responsibilities, but he seems more comfortable, not to mention happy, being at defensive end in a 3-4 base front.

If this is the case, then these coaches need to continue to use him that way. It was no coincidence that all these plays and turnovers started happening the first time Haynesworth really played. He made all the difference. He pushed the line of scrimmage; he created open lanes for linebackers; and he also gave pass rushers more opportunities to face one-on-one blocking, which is every pass rusher's dream.

Listen, I don't claim to know if Haynesworth would've played this way all along, or if he played this way as a result of what Coach Mike Shanahan did up to this point. But if the coaches' ultimate goal was to get Haynesworth to the place where he was Sunday, then my hat's off to Shanahan and Haslett.

I would assume the coaches' actions to this point showed Haynesworth a couple things: (1) that the team will play without him; and (2) as long as he's on the team, it will be done Shanahan's way. I don't take Haynesworth to be a unintelligent individual, so I would assume this is how Haynesworth is thinking.

Outside of the obvious -- playing on the emotional high of losing his brother in a tragic motorcycle accident -- I believe Haynesworth understands he has very little to no trade value at this point, or so it would seem, given his contract. I don't think the Redskins ever truly planned to move him; I'm starting to think it was all a calculated plan to motivate Haynesworth.

Think about it: The trade deadline goes by; now Haynesworth is left to assume he has to not only remain a Redskin, but also has to rebuild his value as a player. He can't finish this season the way it began and think that any teams would want him, let alone pay him top dollar. So now he has to play like he's in a contract year, and after getting moved on that defensive front, that's exactly what he did. Haynesworth was the one-man wrecking crew we've been looking for since his arrival here in Washington.

Regardless of whether Haynesworth's explanation as to why he played better is accurate, I know he destroyed that Bears offensive front, and I would assume he plans on doing some destroying for the rest of the season.

I've been critical of some of Mike Shanahan's decisions, but I must admit he took quite a risk here and has emerged with a 4-3 record and Haynesworth now apparently all in. I have no problem giving Shanahan his props: Well played, Coach, well played.

By LaVar Arrington  | October 26, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
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Next: Redskins-Lions keys to victory: offense


now if only the same strategy worked on offensive players. Shanahan got rid of the only player on the roster who brought competition to the WR position. Now Moss,Armstrong, and Galloway are sitting pretty knowing that they have the 3 wr spots locked down (with the exception of the occasional Banks gimmick play). There is no incentive to work harder to get better on offense because we are thin in almost every spot, but Shanny will only play HIS guys. i know i'll get reamed on for still talking Devin Thomas, but whatever Shanny is doing with the offense it isn't really working. And I'm not too impressed with Kyle Shanahans offense either. Nothing mind blowing going on with the O. I think Zorn and co put up 17 pts pretty regularly.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't see this as Haynesworth finally seeing the light and playing better. I see it more as Haslett seeing the light and putting his play makers in positon to actually have an impact. I think the coaching staff was arrogant to think that their system is stronger than the strengths of the players. Haslett tried to put a square peg in a round hole. Now he's finally understanding that the round peg goes in the round hole. His job now is to find the right sized round peg to fit each round sized hole.

Posted by: sd-bones | October 26, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10: "I think Zorn and co put up 17 pts pretty regularly."

The difference here, however, is what is most important.....the Win/loss column.

Posted by: papasanden | October 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

finally we gonna have a good time

Posted by: pejochum | October 26, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The point everyone seems to be missing (do you hear me Czabe?) is that Shanny absolutely could not cave in to Fat Al because of the effect it would have had on the other 50 guys. If he is kissing his big rear from the get go, he would not be getting the production he's getting from the rest. The players are not stupid. They know about the contract and all of the other considerations. And if Shanny is going to trade him for just a draft pick, why not wait until after the season to do so. The bill for 2010 is already paid.

Posted by: shanks1 | October 26, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Chicago's offensive line is terrible. I am waiting for Haynesworth to show some consistency before I jump on the bandwagon.

Posted by: sbdc2 | October 26, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Lavar--good article---I am liking your work m ore and are correct: the way Shanny's handling Hanesworth and DThomas is the right way and we may start seeing dividends. #92 DOES need to show up and play amp'd up the rest of the season before anyone goes all love fest over him. I will be keenly watching #92 vs the Gints who like it or not are the top team--again--in the NFC.

Dthomas? why is anyone talking about him? He sucks and did not work hard--c ya ge the F out. Haneeworth looks like he's sucking it up and shutting up and playing hard. There is no otehr way to undo people's perception. 'skins Oline is still shaky---trent Willimas a rookie--pls God let him play and learn all season and not get hurt; Rabach: below average and declining; Hicks: average on a good day. Litchensteiner (excuse spelling): dunno---see him get jacked back a lot and where the hell is Dockery? JBrown: sharing time w Stephon Heyer who gets an A for sticktoitiveness but will be gone after next years draft when we hopefully get more olinemen. "skin's offense is not going to be great this year......not until oline fixed and we get young WRs--look at the Gint's they are good.

Posted by: tabtool | October 26, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10: "I think Zorn and co put up 17 pts pretty regularly."

The difference here, however, is what is most important.....the Win/loss column.
Posted by: papasanden | October 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

You can't compare Kyle to Zorn... The players are getting wide open at times & McNabb's inaccuracies have left at least a TD a game on the field instead of the scoreboard. It's been a long time since play designs were leading to wide open guys here in Washington. We get the OLine fixed & sky is the limit... McNabb just needs a lil more time.

Posted by: tony325 | October 26, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

excellent point shanks 1.

Posted by: destewar | October 26, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Haynesowrth has one good game and the articles are coming out of the woodwork. The season is 16 games long. A lot of players can flash in the pan here and there-the good ones do it every Sunday. Al needs to show more consistency before writers start crowning him.

Posted by: sjp879 | October 26, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Haslett might have seen the light but Fat Al didn't play to anywhere near this level last year so you have to say a fire was lit under his rear end somehow some way. As far as DThomas, let's mention him again when he actually does something for someone else, which might be never. As far as the Oline, we just need to give Shanny some time. I think he might know a thing or two about putting an Oline together. Unless you are looking at game film and know the blocking assignments making assesments on interior lineman is impossible. It's safe to say that we still are missing some pieces, but I would think Shanny knows that. Obviously Dockery doesn't fit the system (plus Buffalo couldn't wait to get rid of the guy) and Brown is playing well below what was expected. I expected it to take a while for the offense to gel. I'm a little disappointed that DMac's passing accuracy and I expected the defense to be a lot more solid than they were early on. But at 4 and 3, we're sitting pretty well.

Posted by: Jurgensen9 | October 26, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Albert is signed to a longterm deal...... He will be a Redskin for the best years if his career. Hail!!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | October 26, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I think this is Haslett as much if not more than Shanhan, adjusting to the players has (finally). His system has to be hybrid 4-3/3-4 system. Haynesworth should theoretically thrive in said system.

AS A DEFENSIVE END? I don't know how many times I said that last year? Last year's DC was not adaptable and could not change. This year's defensive appears to be able to do that. I attribute the verbal altercation with Hall as evidence of that. Tennessee adjusted to the way Haynesworth played in order to leverage the most out of him.

Coaches must adjust to the talent they have. Systems employed must be adaptable. Players must as Shanahan put it, give 100% on every down.

Posted by: periculum | October 26, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I've felt that Haynesworth has sounded emotionally flat since he arrived, there has always been a disconnect when he has spoken, everything about the man has seemed totally incongruent. Haynesworth's body language on Sunday spoke the truth. Finally! The game actually mattered. Money had nothing to do with it. Last Sunday in Chicago was all about the Code. Haynesworth had something to play for -- the result: we saw Superman.

If we were to look simply on surface level polish, the Skins don't appear to have what it takes to become a champion. What I find encouraging is that the whole is clearly greater than the sum of the parts. From a raw emotional standpoint, this is mentally the toughest team I've seen around here in years. The defense has been making goal line stops seem routine. To overcome a dreadful game by the star QB, the Skins needed to be able to draw on sources of strength from people who needed to step up who hadn't shown up yet.

On Sunday, the team rediscovered the Code. The fans were privileged to witness the coming together of a band of brothers. Clearly, everybody had each other's back. Eventually, the offense is going to find its identity and will hitch itself to Ryan Torrain's back, which will free up Donovan McNabb to do what he does best -- go Play Action! If this team is going anywhere this year, however, as Haynesworth goes, so goes the team. If Haynesworth decides to live by the Code, I'd be very afraid if I were playing the Skins. Very afraid!

Posted by: dannykurland1 | October 26, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

This is a good piece. The more LaVar writes like the knowledgeable player tht he is, the better.

what is good about the Redskins this year is that they are in shape and hustle after takeaways. They are not so exhausted in the 4th quarter that they collapse.

But still they barely beat a mediocre team with a terrible quarterback. The knock on them is that they were so thin that they would really suffer with an important injury. We shall see.

Posted by: jhough1 | October 26, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Arrington,

Excellent article!

Appreciate your perspective on an issue that I found quite boggling. I recall Joe Gibbs saying that schemes should fit the personnel during his first tenure. Albert's obviously a gifted player, but his ability to adapt was definitely in question.

My question to you is why don't fans see the value that Clinton Portis brings to the team?

Posted by: karlw171 | October 27, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Sorry but Haslet should adapt the system to fit the players he has. Notice that the defense is at its best when he goes to a 4-3. Both Carter and Haynesworth have done little in a 3-4. The defensive line last year was its strength. Notice any decent QB this year can get a first down whenever needed by isolating against one of the poorer linebackers. And Lavar stating that Al can't be traded because of his contract. BS, it's because Al has already been paid the 21 million and Shanny is throwing a fit about it. This team will blow up as soon as a few meaningful injuries occur. I hope it doesn't happen, but am just being honest.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | October 27, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Lavar: The real Albert is the guy who takes money and reports out of shape or not at all. The guy who thinks only of himself, not of the other people on the interstate he could kill by pretending he is on a speed track. The guy who whines about what he's asked to do for all that money. The only time he plays hard is when he is in a contract year. After the Redskins failed to unload him - and given the future terms of his contract, he suddenly seems to think that he IS in a contract year. Good coaching, Shanny!

Posted by: jburnetti | October 27, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

HE MADE TWO PLAYS AND ONE WAS A TOUCHDOWN THE REFS AND REPLAY MISSED!!! he and the whole team stink the joint up. an 80 year old Lepper could have intercepted Cutlery as he should be thrwoing to Louie Armstrong in the Insane Indoor League. After they get trucked by the Lions i want these Barney Frank loving blogs shut down.

Posted by: doyouktt | October 27, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everything you said,Lavar, with one exception. Haynesworth is nowhere near the league's OR THE REDSKINS' most gifted defensive player as long as Brian Orakpo is on the field. Best on the team on both sides of the ball, week and week out. One the former regime got right (thank God).

Posted by: sw8752 | October 27, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: milorx | October 27, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey LaVar...I've done my share of disagreeing with a lot of what you write and your rationale for some of it. But you are right on the money here.
I hope Albert is listening as well as the coaches. About time he plays as advertised.

Posted by: alco5521 | October 27, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I'll never forget the time when Lavar, himself, virtually single-handedly salvaged a game again the Panthere way back when. Hooah!

Posted by: dontknowdiddley | October 27, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Haynesowrth has one good game and the articles are coming out of the woodwork. The season is 16 games long. A lot of players can flash in the pan here and there-the good ones do it every Sunday. Al needs to show more consistency before writers start crowning him.

Posted by: sjp879

This writer we're talking about is LaVar Arrington not Sally Jenkins... don't you think he might have a little knowledge and expertise about what constitutes a significant breakthrough game?

Posted by: b1rd | October 27, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey Lavar,

Good work. Thx 4 focusing on the D.

Breaking down the D is where u below man.

Can u plz make the articles longer? Just too short.

Posted by: robzombie | October 27, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

U could go further into breaking down just how Haslett used AH in the diff 3/4 4/3 alignments this wk. Some of us r now remote n can't see all the local sports shows that break this down, but we can c the WaPo from anywhere...Thx!

Posted by: robzombie | October 27, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Best game? YES, without a doubt. However, did anyone happen to see the O-Line he was up against? I like AH, even with his kicking and screaming. Lets just hold on and see what he can do against a legit O-Line. AH is a product of himself, not a product of MS or JH.

Posted by: dwilcox2 | October 27, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

AH played well. McNabb on the other hand has me feeling uncomfortable. He throws low and innacurate way too often. Why doesn't he correct this? Long balls have a 30-70-% to getting completed (70% no). He has a good running game also. Having said that, if Armstrong and Cooley catch those two early passes, maybe he gets in a groove and plays better. He has been average thus far (compared to teh other NFL QB's). Skins seem to be winning in SPITE of McNabb. He has yet to drive down the field in the closing minutes to pull out a game when it is needed. He has to improve. Period.

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | October 27, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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