A few quick thoughts on the Albert Haynesworth saga...
• Haynesworth's scheme preference is misguided. The most interesting aspect of the situation playing out with the Redskins has nothing to do with the huge amount of money involved. The part that blows my mind is that Haynesworth signed a seven-year deal and seemingly expected to play in the same defensive scheme for the duration.
In the NFL, the only constant is perpetual change, especially among teams that fail to reach the postseason consistently. How does Haynesworth not realize this?
He's not the first defensive lineman in the NFL who doesn't like playing for a 3-4. Far from it. Defensive lineman in the 3-4 are taught to play off the blockers in front of them and as such the position is not nearly as fun as a 4-3 gap-penetrating scheme in which they just line up between offensive linemen and attempt to wreak havoc in the backfield.
I have had more than a couple elite defensive linemen tell me they would much prefer other schemes but would accept playing in the 3-4 so long as they were compensated handsomely for it, as Haynesworth clearly is. Their concern was that their teams would not pay them what they deserve because their statistical numbers, especially in terms of both tackles for loss and sacks, would be far below their peers as a result of the difference in scheme.
• How should Washington punish Haynesworth? Redskins fans called into my show on Sirius NFL Radio after Haynesworth's decision not to attend the mandatory minicamp and suggested the Redskins should make him inactive all season, if he shows up. Bench him, they said, and that will show him.
Unfortunately, for a guy like Haynesworth, that won't work. Paying Haynesworth his full salary all season to sit on the bench and eat hot dogs would be a dream come true for a lot of players in the NFL. There is zero risk of injury or increased wear and tear on their body. It is getting paid without having to actually work.
The better idea, if Haynesworth does show up, may be to put his big body at nose tackle and see what happens. Sure, there is the possibility he wouldn't play hard. If that were the case, he would be doing it at his own risk. If he wants to let double teams push him all over the field and beat him up, I guess that's his prerogative.
• A lesson has been learned ... yet again. Haynesworth is the latest in a long line of examples in which teams doled out large amounts of money to the wrong type of person. Notice how I wrote person and not player. When those sums of money are involved, it is important that organizations do as much background work as possible on the character and makeup of the person involved so they can feel confident they will realize a return on their sizable investment.
It happens in the draft all the time. Teams fall in love with the player without doing enough due diligence. Just look at JaMarcus Russell. And in free agency, Terrell Suggs hasn't exactly been a model player for the Ravens since he got over $38 million guaranteed. Time will only tell how Julius Peppers will perform now that he got his monster contract.
While I agree with your point that Vince Young is immature at best, his transgressions do not hold a candle to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. He does win and is a great quarterback but his actions reflect badly on him and his organization. My question is do you also feel that he should be jettisoned by the Steelers?--Brad L., Knoxville, Tenn.
To be clear, I do not think the Titans should get rid of Young. I do, however, think the Titans shouldn't give a long-term contract extension to Young, who thus far has lacked the emotional stability and maturity needed in a franchise quarterback.
As for Roethlisberger, he clearly is lacking in many areas, with maturity being high on that list. On a personal level, I find his alleged indiscretions to be much more reprehensible than anything Young has done. The biggest difference on the field between the two is the level of success they have achieved. Probably the most eye-opening thing for me is that a person like Roethlisberger, who doesn't appear to know what it means to be a true professional and conduct himself as such, already has two Super Bowl rings.
Regarding the excessive contact prevalent in the OTAs and minicamps, why doesn't the league have a representative assigned to each team? One who would work at the team facility and monitor the goings on, as well as other specified duties. The league would only have to hire/train 32 individuals to get this done. I'll take the Dolphins job!--Lew, Miami
That is not a bad idea. If that league representative had unlimited access to all of the football operations, he could monitor all sorts of things, ranging from tampering to Spygate-like infractions. I know when I played there were times when a rep from the league would be in town to watch an offseason practice. I can remember at least one time when the coaches intentionally dialed back the intensity of practice and got rid of a couple of drills the league might have deemed questionable.