Search

4 Washington REDSKINS

Sept. 07, 2009
Sept. 07, 2009

Table of Contents
Sept. 7, 2009

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
NFL PREVIEW
Departments

4 Washington REDSKINS

An already stout defense got a whole lot better in the off-season—but is that where the help was needed most?

PHILLIP DANIELSis eyeballing a swarm of buzzing wannabe general managers behind the ropes atRedskins camp in Ashburn, Va., shouting out suggestions for moves the teammight make, when the 6'5", 305-pound defensive end takes the opportunity todo a little personnel assessment himself. "If I'm an outsider, I'd look atwhat this team did [in the off-season] and call it an A-plus job," he sayswith a grin. "You just watch."

This is an article from the Sept. 7, 2009 issue

A curiousevaluation, perhaps, given that the team invested, on paper, $174 million inits No. 4--ranked defense yet shelled out peanuts on an offense that ranked28th in scoring and 29th in red-zone efficiency. Case in point: In search of anew right tackle, the Skins signed free agent Mike Williams (cost: the leagueminimum $620,000), who last played an NFL down in '05.

Still, Daniels'senthusiasm appears justified. He points to the re-signing of ball-hawkingcornerback DeAngelo Hall and the drafting of Texas defensive playmaker BrianOrakpo with the No. 13 pick in April. And then Daniels's typically quiet eyesabsolutely bug out as he gets to the newcomer who's expected to make thebiggest difference: Albert Haynesworth.

Signed on Day Oneof free agency for seven years at $100 million, including $41 million inguaranteed money, the former Titans tackle comes off a career year in which hehad 8½ sacks and 51 tackles—fantastic numbers for an interior lineman. Moreimportant, Haynesworth made the other players on the Tennessee defense better:The Titans had 44 sacks and tied a franchise record with 23 forced fumbles lastyear. His addition should be a boon to a Skins defense that had only 24 sacksand 18 takeaways, both tied for 28th in the league. "Your defense can begood," Daniels says, "but you can't be at the top until you get thoseturnovers. Then you make your whole team better; you feed your offense. One wayor another, Albert's the guy who'll make that happen."

Quarterback JasonCampbell takes the assessment one step further, suggesting that Haynesworth hasalready improved the offense: "Going against Albert and those guys everyday of camp has made us so much better."

Haynesworth'simpact was immediately evident in camp, especially in third-down situationsduring 11-on-11 drills, in which Daniels (fully recovered from a left ACLinjury that cost him all of '08) lined up inside next to Haynesworth withOrakpo (who'll typically line up at outside 'backer) and veteran Andre Carter(10½ sacks two years ago) at the ends. On plays in which Haynesworth facedsingle blockers or even double teams, he burst into the backfield to disruptpass plays or divert rushing attempts. When he drew extra attention from hisright, Orakpo feasted on the free space. And when help came from the left,Daniels and Carter wreaked havoc. That pretty much sums up defensive line coachJohn Palermo's game plan. "We don't know how teams will work protectionsyet," he says, "but we'll line those four guys up, and something'sgoing to happen."

The move is notwithout risks. Haynesworth, 28, has missed chunks of time to injury andsuspension, and he's being asked to stunt far more than he did in Tennessee. Ifhe struggles, it won't be the first time a prized defensive free agent has cometo Washington, cashed in and then failed to live up to his billing. (See: DanaStubblefield, Mark Carrier, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jessie Armstead,Jeremiah Trotter, Adam Archuleta, Jason Taylor....) But Haynesworth isn'tletting the pressure get to him. "Am I going to bring 20 sacks?" heasks. "Hell, no. Most of what I do is help other people. I get double- andtriple-teamed to open it up for other guys. That's when you start gettingsacks, big plays, turnovers from other players."

Who, exactly?"Well, myself, for one," Daniels says, laughing. "[Albert] gets themoney; I'll take the sacks. In the end it all works out for everyone."

PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP
WITH 2008 STATISTICS

COACH: JIMZORN
8--8 in NFL, second season with Redskins

OFFENSE

Santana MOSS
POS WR
REC 79
YARDS 1,044
TTD 7

Stephon HEYER
POS RT
HT 6'6"
WT 330
G 9

Clinton PORTIS
POS RB
ATT 342
YARDS 1,487
AVG 4.3
REC 28
YARDS 218
AVG 7.8
TTD 9

Randy THOMAS
POS RG
HT 6'5"
WT 308
G 16

Jason CAMPBELL
POS QB
ATT 506
COMP 315
PCT 62.3
YARDS 3,245
TD 13
INT 6
RATING 84.3

Casey RABACH
POS C
HT 6'4"
WT 295
G 16

Mike SELLERS
POS FB
REC 12
YARDS 98
TTD 1

DerrickDOCKERY
POS LG
HT 6'6"
WT 326
G 16

Antwaan RANDLEEL
POS WR
REC 53
YARDS 593
TTD 4

Chris SAMUELS
POS LT
HT 6'5"
WT 314
G 12

Shaun SUISHAM
POS K
FG 26--36
POINTS 103

Chris COOLEY
POS TE
REC 83
YARDS 849
TTD 1

Third-down backLadell Betts (61 att., 206 yards; 22 rec., 200 yards; 1 TTD) spells Porter.

Defense

Rocky MCINTOSH
POS OLB
TACKLES 88
SACKS 2
INT 1

DeAngelo HALL
POS CB
TACKLES 74
INT 5

PhillipDANIELS*
POS DE
TACKLES 38
SACKS 2½

LaRon LANDRY
POS FS
TACKLES 65
SACKS ½
INT 2

CorneliusGRIFFIN
POS DT
TACKLES 27
SACKS 1

LondonFLETCHER
POS MLB
TACKLES 133
SACKS ½
INT 0

AlbertHAYNESWORTH
POS DT
TACKLES 51
SACKS 8½

Chris HORTON
POS SS
TACKLES 72
SACKS 1
INT 3

Andre CARTER
POS DE
TACKLES 37
SACKS 4

Carlos ROGERS
POS CB
TACKLES 56
INT 2

Brian ORAKPO(R)
POS OLB
TACKLES 42
SACKS 11½
INT 0

Hunter SMITH
POS P
PUNTS 53
AVG 44.2

Haynesworth'sarrival sends DT Kedric Golston (28 tackles, 2 sacks in 13 starts) to a backuprole.

NewACQUISITION
*2007 statistics

(R) Rookie:College statistics
TTD: Total touchdowns

my SI
SI.com/Redskins
Get the latest and best Redskins stories, statistics and fan blogs from acrossthe Web, handpicked by the editors of SI.

2009 SCHEDULE
2008 RECORD 8--8
NFL RANK (Rush > Pass > Total)
OFFENSE 8 > 23 > 19
DEFENSE 8 > 7 > 4

SEPTEMBER
13 at N.Y. Giants
20 ST. LOUIS
27 at Detroit

OCTOBER
4 TAMPA BAY
11 at Carolina
18 KANSAS CITY
26 PHILADELPHIA (M)

NOVEMBER
1 Bye
8 at Atlanta
15 DENVER
22 at Dallas
29 at Philadelphia

DECEMBER
6 NEW ORLEANS
13 at Oakland
21 N.Y. GIANTS (M)
27 DALLAS

JANUARY
3 at San Diego

(M) Monday

SCHEDULE STRENGTH

NFL Rank: 16

Opponents' 2008 winning percentage: .492

Games against playoff teams: 7

ANALYSIS

The Redskins must knock off the early cupcakes to keepthe heat off coach Jim Zorn; first-half foes St. Louis, K.C. and Detroit hadfour wins, total, last year, though one was the Rams' upset in Washington. TheSkins also need to enter November above .500, as the slate gets rough after thebye week with back-to-back trips to Dallas and Philly and two West Coastflights in December.

SPOTLIGHT

Devin Thomas, Wide receiver

CHANGE IS coming for a receiving corps that tied for28th in the NFL in receptions of 20 or more yards. Namely, the Redskins wantone of their two second-round receivers from 2008, Thomas or Malcolm Kelly, tostep into the flanker role, which would allow 5'?10" Antwaan Randle El toslide into the slot position, where he could be a matchup nightmare. Of thetwo, Thomas has made the bigger strides toward emerging from the doghouse inwhich both players found themselves as rookies.

The trouble began last August when the pair failed theteam's physical-conditioning test. Each missed time with a hamstring injury incamp, and Kelly suffered a knee injury and has since had two surgeries. Thehealthier Thomas suited up for 16 games (to Kelly's five) and began to clickaround midseason, when he had three-catch games against the tough secondariesof Pittsburgh, Dallas and Baltimore.

The experience gave Thomas a better understanding ofthe Skins' West Coast attack, and Zorn says that as his route-running hassharpened, he has been more able to put his physical assets—notably long armsand sprinter's speed—to use. "Devin is clearly able to concentrate a littlemore on beating his defender rather than on remembering what his route is,"Zorn says. The job is Thomas's for the taking.

PHOTODAVID BERGMANAL THE RAGE The Skins expect Haynesworth to consume space and free up others to make plays.PHOTOSIMON BRUTYPHOTO