With Albert out, Redskins move on

With Albert out, Redskins move on
December 8, 2010, 6:28 pm
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 1:27 p.m. UPDATED 5:54 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer


It was never going to work, the idea of Albert Haynesworth morphing his game and sacrificing his statistics to play nose tackle in a defense like the 3-4 and for a coach like Mike Shanahan.

That was the consensus Wednesday at Redskin Park after Haynesworth was suspended four games without pay due to conduct the team called detrimental.

I dont think it wouldve happened unless Albert became a totally different guy, different player, veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said. A lot of guys saw that from the beginning.

The Redskins began preparing for Tampa Bay without Haynesworth, who is appealing the loss of 847,000 in salary. And the vibe was odd considering the team is 5-7 and out of the playoff hunt.

Shanahan was downright jovial, opening the full practice to reporters who wanted to brave the elements and quipping afterward, I was going to share the conversation that Albert and I had but since he wouldnt talk to me, I couldnt share that conversation with you guys so that was a little tough.

Kedric Golston joked it will be odd not answering any Haynesworth-related questions.

And the other players who addressed the suspension are thrilled the matter after eight-and-a-half months is now over even it means a potentially effective player has been removed from the roster.

Im glad we dont have to talk about the situation anymore, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. We get some closure and its just a long drama thats finally over.

Said Holliday: It was a major distraction. To me, it feels like guys feel a sense of relief to some degree.

Shanahan didnt provide many additional details that werent in his statement on Tuesday aside from an apparent last straw being Haynesworths refusal to play nickel package on first and second downs in addition to his third down work.

It was just time to go in another direction, Shanahan said. A lot of drama, obviously, with all the press coverage, but when someone dictates when they will go in, when they wont go in, that was just a little too much.

Although Haynesworth had a 25.5-snap average in his eight games, Holliday said the game plan last week against the Giants included first- and second-down snaps for Haynesworth. In his last two games, 22 of his 30 snaps were on third down (not including kneel-downs).

But apparently Haynesworth wasnt interested in an expanded role.

He didnt like the 4-3 defense a year ago, Shanahan said. He didnt like the 3-4 base defense this year, didnt like the nickel defense, didnt want to play nose tackle, didnt want to play defensive end.

We got him playing the nickel package, first, second and third down. He didnt like the first- and second-down nickel, wanted to play third-down nickel in passing situations.

Shanahan and the coaching staff kept wishing and hoping Haynesworth would eventually fall in line but, when push comes to shove and it keeps dragging on, especially when somebody is adamant about a couple situations, you say, Hey enough is enough and you move on.

Holliday, who said Haynesworth was disappointed and frustrated during a Tuesday night conversation, thought the two-time All-Pro was on the verge of accepting his role following his half-brothers death in mid-October.

He came back and it seemed like he had a different focus, Holliday said. He seemed to be a guy that was trying to buy in so thats whats unfortunate. To me, the situations they were putting him into played more to his strengths, he tried it and did a good job for us.

Ultimately, even if Haynesworth embraced the 3-4 defense, his production wouldnt have been at a Pro Bowl level because of how much time he missed during the off-season and preseason.

The 3-4 isnt something you just jump into, Holliday said. It takes reps and he never really got the reps so he was behind the eight-ball and to ask him to go in and play nose and play a technique hes never played before in the heat of battle, it was tough for him.

Holliday was in the defensive line meeting room with Haynesworth and admitted the atmosphere was stressed at times because youre trying to teach one nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu one way and Al a different way. That had to be frustrating for everybody.

Asked if he witnessed insubordinate behavior by Haynesworth, Holliday said: Were getting touchy topics now. Commenting, I dont know if I should do that.

What the Redskins do know in the wake of Haynesworths suspension is something they already knew: Shanahan is in charge. Period. He said he did not consult with owner Dan Snyder before making the decision although general manager Bruce Allen was likely keeping Snyder in the loop.

I guess Coach wanted to put his foot down and let you know its always his way or youre out of here, cornerback Carlos Rogers said.

Said Alexander: It shows younger players they need to be professional and go about it Shanahans way or you wont be here. Whats stopping him from doing it to anybody else on the team?

And so as Haynesworth moves out although his locker was still intact the Redskins move on toward their game against Tampa Bay.

No need to talk about him anymore, said defensive end Phillip Daniels, who was critical of Haynesworths attitude on Monday. Its time to move forward and get this team to where it needs to be. Were desperate for a win and thats what we need to do.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com