Albert Haynesworth might not be one of a kind, but he’s one of just a few in the NFL who can dominate anyone an opposing team places in front of him.
“I would say that there’s maybe a handful, a couple handfuls of guys that if they want to, you can’t block them,” Titans’ defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil said. “And it doesn’t matter who the offensive person is, and it’s no disrespect to the offensive personnel but … one-on-one your’re going to lose most of the time.
“When he puts his mind to it and wants to play ball, one guy can’t block him.”
Over a seven-year period from the time he was drafted 15th overall in 2002, the Titans benefited plenty from Haynesworth’s ability to defeat a single blocker or the fact that he attracted attention from multiple players on the opposing offense.
Sunday, for the first time, they’ll have to face the 6-foot-6, 335-pound defensive tackle when the Washington Redskins come to town fresh off a Monday night loss at Philadelphia.
“It’s going to be fun,” quarterback Vince Young said. “I’m going to try to draw the big boy offsides a few times.”
Haynesworth made national headlines during the offseason for his refusal to take part in the Redskins’ offseason workouts and his ublicly expressed desire for a trade, all of which followed a $21 million roster bonus paid to him at the start of March.
In six games this season he has made just 14 tackles and has two sacks, numbers that pale in comparison to 2008, his final season with Tennessee. That year he had 51 tackles and a career-high 8.5 sacks, which earned him the $100 million free agent contract from Washington he eventually signed that offseason.
“Sometimes numbers don’t exactly indicate how a guy is playing,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. “I’m just very happy with him, how he’s played. He’s been the difference in us winning games in a few of those games. That’s what you’re looking for are guys who are being selfless, playing hard and making some plays, and he’s been able to do that.”
Even so, Haynesworth admitted Wednesday in comments to the D.C. media that he longs for the opportunity to put up the kind of numbers he did with the Titans.
One of his primary concerns during the offseason was the fact that the Redskins planned to shift to a 3-4 alignment as its primary defensive schemes.
“Sometimes I wish I was still back there because I feel like I could still be dominant [in the Titans’ scheme],” Haynesworth said. “…“All of it isn’t about the player, sometimes it’s the scheme a little bit. Here, we’re getting back to it. They’re letting me play, so you’re seeing a lot more production out of me than you did last year and earlier this year.”
For their part, the Titans certainly plan to keep a close eye on him.
“You’re going to have to be aware of where he is,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “You’re going to have to maybe get somebody some help, at times with the center, but they move him all over the place and they affect your protection, so we’re going to have to be on our toes as far as our adjustments.”
Just don’t expect any one offensive lineman to go toe-to-toe with him when he’s out there.