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Albert Haynesworth

Defending Albert Haynesworth Yet Again: He’s Playing About 75% of the Snaps

I was unfortunate enough to have ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on in the background before the embarrassment at FedEx this week. The “analysts” — Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson — started the show by taking turns shitting on the Redskins via the infinite wisdom they’ve acquired from having played or coached the game some time ago followed by years of being casual observers, paid to give opinions based on nothing more than their “I Played in the Nat-i-null Foot-bawl League” membership card.

Here was the best of the bunch: Ditka’s thoughts on the signing of Albert Haynesworth:

You bring in a guy for 100 million dollars — 40-something guaranteed — and the guy can’t play. And you knew it. If you’d asked Tennessee, they’d told you he’s not worth that amount of money. He plays 25-30 plays a game, IF he plays at all. And payin’ him that kind of money. He’s gonna make you better? Come on.

Everything after the word “guaranteed” is wrong. Haynesworth “can’t play”? He was widely consider one of the best defensive players in the league after last season. He finished fourth in Defensive POY voting. The entire argument is complete fiction. And Remember: This LED the show. That quote you see above was the first bit of analysis on Monday Night Countdown. That was the best they’ve got. And it’s total fucking horseshit.

Via Ryan O’ Halloran at the Times (we suggest you follow him on Twitter), here are the number of snaps Haynesworth has played in each game this season, compared to the total number of snaps the defense played:

NYG 46 of 64 = 72%
Stl 45 of 53 = 85%
Det 36 of 79 = 46%
TB 45 of 57 = 80%
Car 50 of 63 = 80%
KC 56 of 74 = 76%
Phila 42 of 58 = 72%
TOTAL:  73%

Not once has Haynesworth only played “25-30 plays” this season. Even in the Lions game, in which he was hurt (like, actually hurt, not “I need a breather” hurt), he was in on 36 plays.

Don’t get me wrong: Haynesworth takes breaks. We all see him on the sideline on occasion, gasping for air, grabbing an ankle, whatever. But keep in mind: This is a 350+ pound defensive tackle going up against double-teams all game. So, he is essentially attempting to push about 600-700 pounds of human backwards about 45-50 times a game. That’s exhausting.

I don’t have the numbers, but I would guess that the percentage of snaps played by massive tackles who routinely go against double-teams throughout the league is very similar to Haynesworth’s. Just because he is being paid superhuman money doesn’t mean he isn’t human. Give the man a break. Shit.

(I realize Ditka saying something illogical is not uncommon, but I hear a similar argument to the one presented here fairly often, so consider this post just a general address to the haters.)

Previously: Albert Haynesworth Is Underachieving, According to ESPN’s NFC East Blog

Former Managing Editor at UPROXX; former Senior Editor at @SBNation; former ska-zine editor, fan of bad sports teams and good beer.



  1. StetSportsBlog

    October 29, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    Just can’t recall Warren Sapp going to the ground nearly every game, even though he commonly faced the same kind of double teams.

    Or any other DT or that matter; whether they are as good as Haynesworth or not.

    Just saying.

  2. Chris Mottram

    October 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    I don’t really care how often he goes to the ground. He’s still playing 75% of snaps.

  3. Jamie Mottram

    October 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    This brand of lazy, jock-driven analysis is exactly why ESPN sucks the life out of itself whenever it strays from showing actual sports.

  4. StetSportsBlog

    October 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    I think you do care. That’s why you mentioned the breaks he takes in a post with a topic totally independent of said breaks. And even went so far as to mention how “exhausting” it is for him to do what he does.

    Not saying it’s not exhausting, just pointing out that other people with varying levels of talent at the same position don’t react like he does to the “exhaustion.”

  5. Chris Mottram

    October 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    How do the breaks have nothing to do with the topic? The topic is: how many snaps he plays. Obviously breaks affect that. So, in other words, I care about how many breaks he takes, just not whether those are him on the sideline or, as you say, laying on the field. Breaks is breaks. And the conclusion is: he doesn’t take too many breaks.

    Also: breaks. And breaks.

  6. Matt Terl

    October 29, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    I’m also skeptical of the assertion that Tennessee would’ve told you that he can’t play, given their current defensive performance. Other than that, all good points from Ditka.

  7. Terps77

    October 29, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    Ask Andre Carter how good Haynesworth is.

    Football is a team sport and Haynesworth has made the defense better, especially along the line. It doesnt matter the number of plays he plays, what matters is his impact on the game as a whole, weather its making tackles or forcing fumbles or taking on double teams to free up teammates.

    Hes a nose tackle, not a linebacker, he does the dirty work. Youre not going to see him fly into the back field from 5 yards behind the line and blow up a delayed hand off.

    Its one thing for an individual player to post great stats, its totally another thing when an individual player can elevate the play of those around them.

    It would be nice if Ditka could give examples of Haynesworth not performing, other than hes not in the game for every play. Is his technique bad? Is he not playing the right gap?

    ESPN is a clown show.

  8. Jake

    October 29, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    Preach it Chris. And Terps77, especially about Carter. Regarding Ditka and others, its pretty obvious whats going on here: Bad team + big money free agent signing = cheap, lazy criticism. When you sign a contract that big you make yourself a target, fairly or unfairly. I happen to think Haynesworth has done everything that could be expected of him so far this year. Is he supposed to play RT and slot receiver too?

    Slight tangent but this is why I was so disappointed with Jaws on Monday Night. For all his vaunted skills breaking down game tape, Jaws didn’t really seem to offer much other then “Boy Jason Campbell sucks a lot”.

    I guess the reality is that the big national guys don’t really know what they are talking about other then what the conventional wisdom says. Stick with the local coverage for actual insight.

  9. frannie825

    October 29, 2009 at 11:12 PM


    It occurred to me, after viewing Jay Leno’s sketch report tonight that a Redskins’ Fan Loyalty sold for $10,100 on ebay, that since we as Redskins’ fans cannot possibly change Daniel Snyder, then perhaps we should re-direct our campaign to Commissioner Goodell and the NFL. It would be wonderful if all fans could unite behind the Redskins’ fans and not only protest the suppression of free speech currently occurring at FedEx Field under Mr. Snyder’s reign by prohibiting posters, but also express their displeasure to the NFL that a huge fan base, that has held a heralded and rich history in the NFL, are helpless against the half-man wrecking crew of Daniel Snyder. I ask that every NFL fan that attends games in an NFL stadium this season, bring this message on a poster to all of your home games this year that says “D Snyder Wears the Pants in the Goodell Family” or “D Snyder Wears the Pants in the NFL Family”. Please represent Redskins fans who are being prevented from expressing their free speech, in the stadium that represents the Nation of Democracy’s Capitol. Thank you.

  10. Krem

    October 30, 2009 at 2:56 AM

    Great stuff. If the Redskins offense didn’t suck and the team was 5-2 instead of 2-5, Haynesworth would be praised around the league for helping to turn the team around, even though he wouldn’t be doing anything differently. Do any of these analysts actually watch him play during games?

    By the way, it’s funny to hear/read all the criticism about Haynesworth, and then ESPN shows that graphic about how much he helps his fellow defensive linemen get to the quarterback. Do any of the ESPN football people actually talk to each other and, you know, share this kind of information? As many have mentioned before: See Andre Carter.

  11. Chris Mottram

    October 30, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    Krem: we made the point about Andre Carter (and Orakpo) here before ESPN ever put together their fancy graphic.

  12. SJD

    November 4, 2009 at 11:17 PM

    MM just posted another laughable article about this topic on the NFC East Blog. Please take him to task on this before my head explodes.

    I’d really appreciate it if he could do us a favor and just omit postings about the Redskins altogether. He’s made it painfully obvious that he doesn’t care to share an educated opinion.

  13. CallingTheShots

    November 6, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    Albert Hayneswerth is the perfect cliche of athletes being paid too much money..and he doesn’t perform. Hey Jamie it’s Zach from those old AOL Hometown blog days. Mine was ‘Calling the Shots.’ Glad I found your blog again, always a good read.

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