Haynesworth sounds off on Blache, defense after being sent home

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By Jason Reid and Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Frustrated with losing and what he says is the unwillingness of defensive coordinator Greg Blache to embrace change, Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth could not "survive another season in this system if it stays the way it is," Haynesworth said late Friday afternoon.

In a lengthy phone interview shortly after he was sent home from practice by Coach Jim Zorn for disciplinary reasons, Haynesworth for the first time discussed his poor relationship with Blache and provided his most detailed explanation yet about the flaws, in his opinion, of Blache's disciplined scheme, which has helped the Redskins rank ninth overall in defense. Haynesworth expressed fear that owner Daniel Snyder's major investment in him -- the Redskins guaranteed Haynesworth $41 million in signing him this past February -- would be wasted unless he again is given freedom to "create havoc" as he did in his first seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

On Saturday, the Redskins will complete preparations for Sunday night's nationally televised game against the Dallas Cowboys. Haynesworth's status for the FedEx Field season finale, however, is unclear after the latest incident in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

"If they keep this system the way it is, then they would label Albert Haynesworth a bust who didn't live up to the contract," Haynesworth said. "Everybody would say he just took the money and ran off. And I'm still playing as hard as I possibly can. But you can only do so much within the system that's put around you. And I'm not talking about the players. The players have been great. I couldn't ask for any better guys. I'm talking about the system. And [the coaches] can say whatever they want about that [the reason he was sent home Friday]. The main thing it's coming from is what I said after the game about leadership and about the team."

After an embarrassing 45-12 loss to the New York Giants on Monday, Haynesworth questioned his role and said the team lacks leadership. Haynesworth, fined $10,000 after trading blows with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs during the game, made it clear he does not believe the style Blache has asked him to play in Washington suits him.

Asked directly whether those comments contributed to Friday's incident, Zorn immediately replied, "Not at all."

"Honestly, this was just something that happened just today," Zorn said after the practice session. "I think it's not unique to me. It happens around the NFL, and I see [these things] handled all the time. And hopefully I'm handling things in the proper way."

Zorn declined to specify the nature of Haynesworth's violation, but Haynesworth reported late for a team meeting on Christmas morning, multiple team sources said. He was told not to attend practice because of his tardiness, three sources said, but he walked out to the practice field anyway.

Haynesworth and Zorn had an animated conversation for about 10 minutes, during the portion of practice the media is allowed to watch, while players stretched. Blache eventually joined them; Zorn said Blache was alerting him that practice was beginning. Moments later, Haynesworth walked back into the facility, and soon left Redskins Park.

"I sent Albert home, just for disciplinary reasons," Zorn said. "I think that all that will be kept between Albert and I. He wasn't belligerent or nasty to me, and I was not nasty to him. It was just something that needed to be done. It's just between us and our football team, and I hope it stays that way."

Haynesworth acknowledged he was "about 20 minutes late getting to the meeting. I was late. I'll pay the fine. The thing that doesn't make any sense to me, they're talking about disciplinary action because I was 20 minutes late? I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but I've seen guys two hours late, show up right before practice on a normal day, and they get to do everything and [the coaches] just respond with, 'Whatever.' This is like the second time I've ever been late. In the preseason, I fell asleep and was like a couple of minutes late for a meeting. This is the second time I've ever been late for a meeting and I get sent home."

Haynesworth believes that Zorn used his tardiness as an excuse to discipline him because of the coaching staff's anger about his recent biting postgame comments. "They're all against me or whatever," he said. "But I know what I'm saying is right because I've been in a scheme that works."


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