Tennessee Titans: Is Albert Haynesworth the Ultimate Team Player?
The team player is someone who makes everyone better around him.
Is this true of Albert Haynesworth?
There have been rumors around the league that the Tennessee Titans have interest in trading for Albert Haynesworth.
Haynesworth openly voiced his displeasure with the Washington Redskins' coaching staff and players throughout a disappointing season. The Redskins switch to a 3-4 defense has forced Haynesworth to play defensive end or nose tackle; neither position is familiar to him.
But many Titan fans doubt Albert Haynesworth's work ethic and passion to play football.
I'm not arguing that Haynsworth is an overlooked leader, but maybe a team player doesn't necessarily have to be known as the prototypical teammate.
The Titans went from 14.6 points per game in 2008 all the way up to 25.1 in 2009. Everyone knows how much worse the Titans were as a team without Haynesworth last season. Let's look at how individual players were affected by his departure.
The unit probably affected the most by Haynesworth's journey to D.C. was the secondary.
Michael Griffin's decreased production from year to year was the worst. Griffin only had one interception last season, compared to seven the year before. He also had four less passes defended.
Nick Harper interception total was cut in half from two to one, while his number of passes defended fell from 14 to six.
Chris Hope and Cortland Finnegan were less affected stat-wise, but Finnegan's total passes defended still took a hit, falling from 17 to 11.
Individual statistics still don't give justice to how much worse the Titans were in 2009. The defense gave up 258.7 yards per game through the air, compared to 199.8 yards per game the year before.
The lack of a pass rush is what caused the stunning drop-off in the secondary. The Titans had 32 sacks in 2009 after having 44 in 2008.
Tony Brown actually increased his sack total from four to five in 2009, but his total tackles went from 52 to 38.
In order to get a good comparison for Kyle Vanden Bosch, you must look back to the 2007 season when he was healthy. He had 12 sacks and 60 tackles then. Without Haynesworth in 2009, Vanden Bosch only had three sacks and 44 tackles.
Examining Keith Bulluck and Stephen Tulloch's stats, it looks like they both had much better years in 2009 without Haynesworth in the lineup.
There is a very logical reason for that increased production.
Keith Bulluck once told the media playing behind that 2008 defensive line was boring, because they were so good. The line made most of the plays.
Bulluck's tackle total increased by 10 despite missing two games. Tulloch's tackle total skyrocketed from 84 to 121.
The reason for the spike in their stats?
Without Haynsworth, the middle of the Titans line all of a sudden became much more vulnerable.
I'm not trying to take anything away from Tulloch, but the majority of his increased production stemmed from the Titans' weakness of the interior defensive line.
For two years, Albert Haynesworth was the most dominating player in the NFL. If it weren't for injuries, he would have won the Defensive Player of the Year award twice.
Haynesworth may not have the pretty stats enjoyed by guys like Ed Reed or James Harrison, so he won't receive the same level of hype.
He plays defensive tackle. Nothing he does is pretty.
He demands the double team, and he blows up the double team. He creates plays for his teammates.
This is why Albert Haynesworth is the ultimate team player. When he is on the field, everyone else looks better.
The Titans would be foolish not to make a reasonable attempt to bring him back to Nashville.
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