The best fit for Haynesworth

The last time I talked with Albert Haynesworth was on the field before a November game against the Cowboys. Haynesworth didn’t suit up that day because of an ankle issue, but he looked and seemed happy. Maybe $100 million will do that to a man.

The source of Haynesworth’s displeasure with the Redskins this offseason is how he’d be used in the team’s 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. The switch to the 3-4 is a good idea. The last two Super Bowl winners ran it, as did last season’s best defense, the Jets. It’s here to stay.

Haynesworth is a natural fit as the right defensive end in a 3-4, and putting him at nose tackle would be a mistake. At 6-foot-6, he’s too tall to play in the middle. But he still could beat centers, and I see him as very similar to Kris Jenkins, the centerpiece of the Jets’ 3-4. No center in the league would want to deal with Haynesworth, and he should embrace it if the Redskins put him there.

Haynesworth’s biggest advantage is his strength and power, but he also has powerful hands. He’s a load who can bull rush with the best. Conditioning has been his issue, but when he was in shape like he was two seasons ago in Tennessee, he was unstoppable during the fourth quarter.

Haynesworth’s contention is that he won’t be used in the style that originally made him a $100 million man — the freedom to stop the run, rush the passer and freelance. But I’m not sure how he would be used in the Redskins’ new scheme has ever been properly explained to Haynesworth.

I could envision his role not changing all that much. As a 3-4 defensive end, Haynesworth would line up between the guard and tackle and slice inside while Brian Orakpo rushes from the outside. In nickel packages, Haynesworth would slide back inside over the guard — exactly what he has been accustomed to — to go one-on-one against the guard. If opponents stop the run, Haynesworth will have opportunities to rush the passer. This is what he has been paid handsomely to do.

Haynesworth needs to get in shape, stay in shape and dominate like he has shown flashes of doing in the past to have the best season of his career. The defense shouldn’t matter. It’s just football.

– Brian Baldinger

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