By Paul Tenorio
Monday, October 19, 2009
On one drive early in the first quarter of the Washington Redskins' 14-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, rookie linebacker-defensive end Brian Orakpo broke through the left side of the offensive line and took down quarterback Matt Cassel.
A few plays later it was Chris Wilson getting to the quarterback, and three snaps after that defensive end Andre Carter broke through and sacked Cassel, jarring the ball loose.
The drive was indicative of the recent play of a defensive line that is proving to be the formidable unit many expected it to be after key additions this offseason.
Yet despite another solid performance, one image off the field stood out more than any other on it: star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth sprinting to the tunnel before the final seconds had ticked off the clock of another disappointing loss.
The action spoke to the frustrations within a team that has failed to live up to preseason expectations and for a defense that has performed well while the offense has sputtered and failed to put up points.
After the game, team sources said Haynesworth spoke passionately during the postgame speech, calling for accountability from teammates and playing with more heart. Haynesworth's voice could be heard in the hallway outside the locker room before it was opened to the media.
Haynesworth was not in the locker room when it was opened to reporters.
With the team falling to 2-4 after six games against winless teams and aggravation increasing, Haynesworth's actions after the ugly home loss may have been necessary.
"I don't think it's nothing, don't make nothing of" Haynesworth running off the field, defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "Albert's a guy that wants to win. Frustration gets the best of you sometimes. [He] probably should've stayed out with the team, but at the same time I can understand when guys frustrated, and they want to win, and it's just not happening.
"Albert's a passionate guy, a guy that came in here to help this defense out. He's done that, and now he just wants everybody to step up and do well. And probably him leaving the field that's just showing that he's telling guys that we just got to win, that's the whole thing, that's why they keep score, got to win. And I think it's just frustration, it's nothing bad about what he did. I think he's just frustrated and wants to win. He's a hard-working guy just like the rest of us, and we want to win."
The frustration and passion the all-pro defensive tackle showed after the game was echoed by his teammates on the defensive line.
The Redskins finished with five sacks, their most since Nov. 3, 2008, and the team's 11 sacks in the last three games are Washington's most in a three-week span since early 2007.
Still, several players downplayed their performance and echoed the same sentiments of accountability.
"Not calling each other out, but not worried about the next man's feelings," Wilson said. "Like, we got a saying in my neighborhood, where I'm from, that, 'If y'all ain't fought, y'all ain't friends.' I done got into a fight with all my friends. It's going to happen because you're true friends going to tell you the truth. . . . My brothers and my sisters, we're going to tell you the truth: 'Look you need to get this together. We can be mad about it, we can fight about it, and we can get over it, but we're not going to continue this.' And the frustration is high enough for that."
With the defense continuing to hold up on its end -- the Redskins limited Kansas City to 265 total net yards, a 25 percent conversion rate on third down and four field goals -- and the offense failing to score at least 20 points for the sixth consecutive game, there are also concerns about possible friction between the units.
Several team veterans said they believed the team would avoid any such division. Players instead preached patience and emphasized the need to avoid blaming others.
"We can't look at the other side of the ball," said Carter, who pointed to injuries to Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas along the offensive line as reason for some of the problems. "We know that they're struggling, but we've also communicated that even though the offense has been up and down, we've got to find a way to score. That's a level of pride and integrity. We don't point fingers at anybody."