When It Comes to Albert Haynesworth's Impact, the Ones Left at a Loss Are the Redskins

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth had his moments, finishing with four tackles, one for a loss, in the season opener.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth had his moments, finishing with four tackles, one for a loss, in the season opener. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Sally Jenkins
Monday, September 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. If Albert Haynesworth were just another guy, you'd say he did fine in his debut in a Washington uniform, even had a couple of big moments. But Haynesworth is not another guy -- he is a hundred million dollars and 350 pounds of bulk, and he had a lot of other moments when you never noticed him.

You scanned the field vainly, looking for that seismic impact and disruptive force he is supposed to bring. Too often when your eye found him, he was kneeling on the sidelines, his nostrils flaring.

Haynesworth is a huge mass of a man, no question, and there is also no question he feels the responsibility of his contract, and wants to be worth it. There were occasions when he seemed to meet the entire New York Giants offense head on and moved it backward by himself.

The defensive tackle was a large reason why the Redskins' 23-17 loss to the Giants was so grudging, and frankly wasn't more one-sided: four times the Redskins stifled the Giants in scoring position, holding them to three Lawrence Tynes field goals.

Haynesworth filled up the middle of the field like a roadblock around which everything flowed, tying up traffic as he fought off double-teams.

But at no point did he have Giants quarterback Eli Manning running for his life. Manning instead completed 20 of 29 passes for 256 yards, and the Giants offense never seemed scared, or even very uncomfortable, and that was the difference.

You wanted the monster play, the gasp provoking hit, the momentum shifter -- and so did Haynesworth, judging by his sullenness after the game. Asked how he thought he played in his debut, he said, "It don't really matter. We didn't win so I don't care how I played."

What Haynesworth is supposed to bring to the Redskins defense hasn't arrived yet. There is something not quite fully cohesive about the unit; it suffered a variety of miscues that ranged from LaRon Landry's rash late hit on Brandon Jacobs to Haynesworth jumping offsides at a crucial moment with 11 minutes 13 seconds to go in the game that gave Tynes an extra five yards on a 45-yard field goal that made it 20-10.

Haynesworth remarked throughout a preseason in which he played sparingly the Redskins hadn't "jelled" yet, and he reiterated it again after the season opener.

"You look at the scoreboard, they scored a lot of points," said Haynesworth, who had four tackles, including one for loss. "We did good things, but we're still not there by far. We still haven't jelled quite yet as a defense. Until we get that stuff straight, this stuff probably will continue.

"A couple different things that we need to do. Once we figure it out, I'll let you guys know. I been saying that the whole camp, that we need to [jell]. The first regular season game it didn't happen, we got a loss. Hopefully it can happen by next week because I'm not really fond of going 0-2."

As long as they remain un-jelled, Haynesworth will remain the focus of a very large and pressing question: Was he worth it? Was he worth a record breaking $100 million over seven years?

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