Spears v Haynesworth

The Haynesworth situation in Washington is comedic, as long as you are on the outside looking in. For the second day in a row, The Redskin’s 100 million dollar man, Albert Haynesworth, has failed his conditioning test administered by the Redskins. Reports indicate that the test is a simple running test of 300 yards. Reports indicate that Haynesworth took a bathroom break and walked the final portion of the first conditioning test, which suggests that Haynesworth may not have been giving it his all.

Haynesworth signed a seven year 100 million dollar deal in February 2009 with the Redskins. Built into the deal was a guaranteed $41 million dollars. At the time, Haynesworth said the following:

”You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust.”

He’s right about that.  He will undoubtedly be remember for being an unprecedented malcontent and stomping on the unprotected face of Andre Gurode.  The Redskins decided to dance with the devil and apparently were surprised to have rohypnol slipped into their drink.  Now they are waking up to a new day sore in all the wrong places and publicly violated.

The Cowboys and Redskins both suffer from questions at the defensive line; this opportunity will allow us to place our respective problems into perspective.

Cost:  The first thing I think when it comes to Haynesworth is the fact that he received a $100 million dollar contract.  (According to Wikipedia, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were prepared to offer a $120 million dollar contract).  Certainly much of that money offered by the Redskins was monopoly money, and there was little expectation that Haynesworth would have received the full value of the contract.  However, he has received over $30 million for last season without playing a down in the 2010 season.

In 2008 the Tennesse Titans franchised Haynesworth and publicly commented that they had reservations about signing him to a large long-term contract because they were uncertain of his continued motivation.  Fast forward to July 2010 and Haynesworth failing two consecutive conditioning tests.

The Cowboys on the other hand have a first round draft pick in Marcus Spears who is slated to make 1.226 million for his services in 2010.  Spears has played in the 3-4 defense his entire career.  Spears is considered to be a bust by most of the national media.  In five years, Spears has totaled 8 sacks and 166 tackles (33.2 tackles per year on average, 1.6 sacks per year on average).  Those numbers are not eye popping.  Spears is a space eater on the defensive line and it is his responsibility to absorb and maintain the blocks of the offensive linemen in order for the linebackers to roam free and make the tackle.  Spears is good at his responsibility, but not irreplaceable.  Spears will make less than his backups, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher (both scheduled to make $1.759 million in 2010).

Amazingly Spears has not complained about the situation.  He has expressed a desire to stay in Dallas and consequently sign a long-term contract, but that is hardly complaining.  Certainly it isn’t on par with Haynesworth’s behavior.

Injury:  Spears has started in every game since he was drafted in 2005.  The biggest issue that I have heard about Spears is that Bill Parcells was pushing to draft Spears prior to DeMarcus Ware.  Fortunately Jerry Jones stepped in and Ware was chosen before Spears.  As for Haynesworth, he has averaged 12.75 games played during his 8 year career.  Haynesworth turned 29 in June of 2010.  For a player who averages 3 missed games per year, it is difficult to believe that number would decrease as he gets older.

Performance: In this category Haynesworth blows away Spears, or does he?  As previously indicated, Spears’s job is to absorb and maintain blocks while maintaining his position at or near the line of scrimmage.  Haynesworth has totaled 308 tackles and 28 sacks during his career (38.5 tackles per year on average, 3.5 sacks per year on average).  My question is, are the extra 5 tackles and 1.9 sacks per year really worth an extra $13.8 million per year?  That’s not a fair assessment, however.  Haynesworth, similar to Spears, is responsible for absorbing blocks and keeping the linebackers free to run.  He also penetrates into the backfield disrupting rushing lanes and the coordination of the blocking scheme.  During the 2007 season the Titans rushing defense suffered tremendously when Haynesworth was out of the lineup.

During the first eight games the season (2007), when Haynesworth was in the trenches, the Titans gave up an average of 15.5 points a game. The most points an opponent scored on Tennessee was 36, which was racked up by Houston; still, the Titans managed to pull out a 38-36 win. Take out Houston’s 36-point afternoon, and the average against Tennessee drops to 12.5.

The previous two opponents — Jacksonville and Denver – capitalized on Haynesworth’s absence, scoring 28 and 34 points, respectively. With each of these two teams racking up 166 rushing yards apiece on the No. 4 run defense in the league, it’s clear the defense’s problem is the lack of Haynesworth.

Hayneworth was given credit for what simply could have been a statistical anomaly.  Suddenly he became a super hero rather than what he is, which is a very good defensive lineman.

Behavior: Haynesworth’s less than ideal behavior is well documented.  In 2003, he kicked his teammate, center Justin Hartwig, in the chest.  In October 2006, Hayneworth physically removed the helmet of Andre Gurode and proceed to stomp on his face.  Haynesworth was suspended for five games for the infraction.  Finally, arrest warrants were issued against Haynesworth in two Tennessee counties in May 2006 stemming from a traffic incident. Both sets of charges were dropped in June 2006. The judge in the Putnam County case tossed the charges on the grounds that the alleged offense happened out of their jurisdiction. In Smith County, the district attorney dismissed the charges. In March 2009, Haynesworth was indicted on two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a December 2008 car accident in Tennessee.

As for Spears… I can’t think of a single questionable thing he has done.  Despite have a multitude of opportunities to voice frustration, Spears has been a model teammate and player.

So what’s the moral of the story?  The first would be that statistics don’t tell the entire story.  Haynesworth is a dominant player; however, Spears is a quality person and player and should not simply be dismissed as a bust because his talents don’t translate to easily decipherable statistics.  Spears may not be signed by the Cowboys for 2011, but he has not been a bust.  Despite the praise and adulation lauded at Haynesworth, it certainly can be suggested that he has been an enormously monumental bust for the Redskins.

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Tags: Albert Haynesworth Andre Gurode Bill Parcells Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware Denver Broncos Jacksonville Jaguars Jason Hatcher Jerry Jones Justin Hartwig Marcus Spears Stephen Bowen Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennesse Titans Washington Redskins

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