Friday, February 27, 2009

Haynesworth Finds Greener Pastures in D.C.

So Albert Haynesworth is gone to the Redskins, who acquire the Titans’ behemoth defensive tackle for $100 million on a 7-year commitment. Haynesworth earns a guaranteed $41 million with the deal.

There are two shorthand ways to think about this:

1. Haynesworth is a premier defensive talent who is just now entering his prime. The Titans lose the heart of their defense, and the Redskins have immeasurably improved their team.


2. Haynesworth has peaked, he has had a history of underachievement, he’s one hyperextended knee away from prolonged periods of inactivity, and the Titans dodged a fiscal bullet of sorts, while the Redskins and owner Daniel Snyder have once again paid out huge money on a risky venture that may very well yield limited dividends.

Haynesworth is talented. He’s listed at 6’6,” 320 pounds, and when he’s on his game, he is a dominant force. For a huge guy, he’s reasonably mobile, and his strength is clogging the middle and disrupting running games. When he’s doing that effectively, he makes everyone around him better, especially linebackers.

Haynesworth will turn 28 on June 17, so he’s young enough to still have banner years ahead of him. Barring injury. Barring his penchant for underachievement. Barring the usual drop-off we see when players get larded with obscene amounts of money (which seems to happen a lot with the Redskins, in particular).

Fact is, it took Haynesworth about five years to hit his stride with the Titans. Plus, if Redskins fans are expecting Haynesworth to terrorize quarterbacks in the fashion of marquee defensive linemen, they can forget about that. In seven years and in 90 games, Haynesworth—who only in his rookie year in 2002 played in every game—has recorded a grand total of 24 sacks.

So where does this event leave the Titans? Not that bad off, actually. The team received surprising performances on the D-line last season from rookies Jason Jones and William Hayes, plus strong levels of play from younger vets Tony Brown, Jacob Ford, and Kevin Vickerson. They still have veteran former All-Pros Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse anchoring the ends. If they can add another promising defensive tackle through the draft or free agency, they have a shot at finding ways to retool their generally successful defensive approach.

What remains to be seen is whether Haynesworth has in fact entered the Twilight Zone of Washington, D.C., where high-priced talent has arrived in droves in recent years, only to achieve at a consistent level of mediocrity.

Media note

Titans radio announcer Mike Keith recently was accorded the Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year Award. Ouch. Must have been another down year for local electronic media voice talent.

Keith is just awful. Nothing grates so much on the ears than Keith when he’s getting all worked up over action on the field, his voice rising to a strange treble-y one-note level, then exploding into his signature cry, “Touchdown, TIIII-TANNNNS!!”

I can’t stand Keith’s play-by-play voice. He renders Titans broadcasts unlistenable after more than about 20 seconds. Proving once again the old shibboleth that it’s better to be lucky than good.

What makes things worse is that we hear Keith’s voice all over the radio as a pitchman for every product under the sun. (He’s very big promoting jewelry stores, especially.) So the small-market guy with the small-market voice and small-market enthusiasm is cashing in big-time locally, his gross overexposure trumped mightily by his vaunted choice position as the Titans’ radio voice.

To be fair, Keith is just fine on his TV gig, “Titans All Access.” That’s because in that forum his voice resides at a consistently conversational level, and he does conduct decent, if softball, interviews.

They say Mike’s a nice guy. I’m sure he is. But I’m not drinking that Kool-Aid.


Henry said...


rbs said...

Right on about Haynesworth. I don't bother getting attached to superior players on my team anyways, as there's so little team allegiance anymore. So see ya, Albert -- though not that often since you went to the NFC.

Titans should be OK, although Schwartz being gone changes the equation.

Way too much space devoted to ripping Mike Keith. I like him, you don't, end of story.