He had to do it only for Haynesworth. Also, there were many other areas in which Haslett could have stayed busy.
Washington’s defense finished 31st out of 32 teams and ranked last for much of the season. The Redskins had their worst defensive performance since 1954.
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No matter how hard Haslett worked, there weren’t enough hours in the day to overcome the Haynesworth situation and Washington’s lack of talent for the 3-4 scheme Shanahan instructed Haslett to install. Essentially handcuffed with mostly wrong parts, Haslett did what he could.
It just wasn’t enough. Predictably, on sports-talk radio and Internet message boards, fans raised questions about the team’s defensive leadership. When something is done worse than it has been in 56 years, nothing is out of bounds.
But Haslett wasn’t the problem, “and no one here had any questions about that,” inside linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher said. “When you have a shift in philosophy, a shift in scheme, there’s going to be a period of adjustment, and we weren’t able to make the personnel changes that were necessary to be successful.
“Now, this year, you bring in Barry [Cofield] to play the nose. He’s an excellent nose tackle. We get Bowen. He’s an excellent 3-4 end. You draft Kerrigan. He’s a big outside linebacker who fits the scheme. You look at all the personnel changes, and you expect to be better. For [Haslett], there’s more he can do.”
In play-calling, the talent bump is apparent.
“Haz, he’s a little bit more comfortable with his play-calling, knowing that he can call on guys and knowing that they’re gonna makes plays,” top cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “At one point in the [Arizona] Cardinals game, you could just tell he was in a rhythm calling plays. We were getting pressure whether we [blitzed] or didn’t. You can see the confidence he has in players executing.”
That’s definitely true.
“It’s a lot easier,” Haslett said, “when you’ve got better players.”
Haslett has the proper tools. He’s putting them to good use. The fun now comes in building something to last.