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Albert Haynesworth excels vs. Bears after nearly a season and a half of struggles
At 4-3 in a maddening, no-one-wants-it NFC, they emerge from Week 7 as more contenders than pretenders. Hurt at some positions, too green at others, old as dirt at a few more, they're still very flawed.
But so is the once-ambivalent Haynesworth, who suddenly mirrors a franchise's change.
Moving aside linemen like gates on a slalom course, making Cutler scurry for his health, he was all fury and force at Soldier Field - the ancestral home of the Monsters of the Midway.
The lone sack he was credited for involved Haynesworth picking up former teammate Edwin Williams and basically using the Bears backup left guard as a battering ram to level Cutler.
And he did it all with a still-heavy heart. Haynesworth played for the first time since his 23-year-old brother was killed in a motorcycle accident Oct. 7.
"Like before, when we were warming up and stuff. . . . I was crying a little bit and stuff and I could hear my little brother like, 'You're crying over me?' " Haynesworth said afterward of Lance McCoy.
He later spoke of beginning to feel comfortable in a defense he never wanted to play in - the 3-4 - and acknowledged that his job is now easier given his reduced responsibilities in the running game.
If Haynesworth gets credit for changing, so should Jim Haslett, the defensive coordinator. Haslett has understood what Gregg Williams did at the outset of 2007 - that it's okay to adapt schemes to players' individual talents sometimes, that systems don't make players; it's the other way around at this level.
The Redskins have essentially taken run responsibilities away from Haynesworth. The things he doesn't like to do in the 3-4, he doesn't have to do. Haslett has given him the green light to do what he does best: blow up the backfield and make plays.
"I'm feeling more productive," he said simply.
His most supportive teammate through more than a season of turmoil, DeAngelo Hall, who tied an NFL record for interceptions in a game with four on Sunday, did not see Haynesworth obliterate the Bears' J'Marcus Webb on one of his returns. But he had it on the money when he added, "You know what, man, he played lights out."
The entire defense was stout. Imagine a team driving to the 13-yard-line once and almost the goal line another time and coming away with a negative-seven points, as the Bears did. This was one of the great eyesores of all time, in which two penalties actually ended up benefiting the Redskins - a delay-of-game penalty near their own goal line that negated McNabb's second interception returned for a touchdown, and Chris Cooley purposefully batting a fumble out of bounds that was about to be recovered.