Thursday, July 28, 2011
How Haynesworth can help the Patriots
Nnamdi Asomugha is the biggest name on the free-agent market, but the New England Patriots made one of the biggest moves -- thus far -- by trading for Albert Haynesworth, the No. 1 free agent in 2009.
The Patriots are hoping Haynesworth will help a defensive line that since 2008 has registered 50 sacks -- only the Steelers (31.5), Chargers (35.5) and Ravens (41.0) had fewer. In that three-year span, Haynesworth alone had 15 sacks in 34 games.
Last season, the Patriots couldn't get off the field on third down. They ranked last defensively in third-down efficiency, allowing teams to covert 47.1 percent of the time.
They also had only eight sacks on third down, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL. That inability to pressure the quarterback reared its ugly head in the postseason. In the Jets' win over the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Mark Sanchez on third down completed 6-of-9 attempts for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
Although Haynesworth had just 6.5 sacks in his two seasons in Washington, 5.5 of them came on third down.
Last season, Haynesworth made it known that he did not like the way he was used in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme. Like the Redskins, the Patriots also run a 3-4 defense although they lined up in that front less frequently. The Patriots used a 3-4 defense on 40.1 percent of their snaps last season, 11th-most among 15 teams that lined up in a 3-4 defense on at least 200 snaps. Washington lined up 50.6 percent of the time in a 3-4.
The Patriots used Haynesworth's preferred 4-3 scheme on just three of 1,056 defensive snaps last season (0.3 percent), and 127 of 2,917 snaps since 2008 (4.4 percent).
And it's purely coincidental, is there something about 30-year-olds that the Patriots like? Some notable Patriots transactions in recent years involved players who were 30. In 2004, the Patriots traded for running back Corey Dillon, who turned 30 during the season. In 2007, New England signed 30-year-old linebacker Adalius Thomas and traded for 30-year-old wide receiver Randy Moss.
And now Haynesworth, who turned 30 in June.