By: Ian Logue
Apparently Albert Haynesworth just didn’t get it.
When they first acquired the former Washington Redskins defensive lineman, I think it’s safe to say that most fans thought it was a great move. At first glance it seemed like the perfect pickup. He would theoretically give them an unbelievable inside presence next to Vince Wilfork on New England’s defensive line, giving them inside pressure to potentially improve what had previously been an ineffective pass rush.
Haynesworth unfortunately didn’t understand how things work here in New England. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
During the preseason – when Haynesworth eventually managed to work his way onto the field – he showed glimpses of the potential most fans were hoping he’d give this football team. He and Wilfork pushed back the pocket, which also allowed guys to come in from the outside and make plays. Finally it appeared New England had a key component in reviving their pass rush, and the excitement grew of what “Big Al” may have been able to do now that he was a Patriot.
It’s amazing how much things change in a couple of months.
The team released Haynesworth on Tuesday, ending a less than stellar tenure as a Patriot, which did little to change the perception brought with him to the team when they first acquired him.
Considering their previous success with guys with checkered pasts, it seemed easy enough to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He certainly said all the right things in the media, calling the move to New England a “career saving” opportunity and that he was thrilled to be here.
The team invested one key word into this relationship – trust. They obviously believed in him enough to not hold the pending legal accusations that were hanging over him against him. By bringing him in, they gave him the chance to put all that behind him and make a “fresh start” here in New England.
However, while the organization invested quite a bit into him, they didn’t seem to get much in return. He barely saw the practice field during the preseason, and only appeared in six of eight contests as he battled a “back” injury. He didn’t seem like a guy committed to resurrecting a career riddled with accusations of him being selfish and lazy – which was the cloud hanging over him when he first got here.
Haynesworth’s not exactly a stranger to having run-ins with coaches prior to playing here, and some feel his release may have been a result of an incident with one that was reported by the Boston Herald. According to the newspaper Haynesworth reportedly got into a “heated exchange” on Sunday with defensive coach Pepper Johnson following a third quarter touchdown by Giants runningback Brandon Jacobs. On the play Haynesworth was completely taken out of the play by left guard David Diehl, which apparently led to the veteran catching the ire of Johnson when he came off onto the sideline.
He never came back in, and that ended up being the last snap he ever played as a Patriot.
Belichick later wouldn’t comment on what happened and simply said on Monday that the reason Haynesworth was taken out of the game was, “rotation related”. It appears now he was rotated all right, rotated right off the roster.
Apparently Haynesworth didn’t understand that it’s Belichick’s way or the highway, and all of his assistants deserve the same respect. One would think he understands that now.
For the Patriots, it was yet another personnel move that hasn’t quite worked out the way they hoped, which has been the story so far with a few players this season. Haynesworth’s just an even bigger disappointment considering how high the expectations were, and how little impact he ultimately made.
Obviously with everything we’ve heard, cutting him loose was clearly the right move. From the moment they got him he was simply a luxury, and would have only become a necessity if the move panned out and he eventually became the guy he used to be on the football field.
In the end, not every guy can be a Corey Dillon or a Randy Moss. Some gambles work, some don’t.
This one simply didn’t. Hopefully as Haynesworth now leaves Foxboro in search of the next team that’s willing to gamble on him, he realizes what a big opportunity he just let slip away.