In January, The Magazine nominated the Titans defensive line and the Giants offensive line for the MVP award, hoping to invoke a little-known rule that the trophy can be awarded to a group, not just an individual. The Titans' D-line was, at the time, a natural for the award, perhaps the most deserving unit.
Well, let's hope Tennessee's defensive linemen enjoyed the pub, because it ain't coming this year.
Excluding Peyton Manning, nobody made his teammates better last year than Albert Haynesworth. He constantly disrupted opponents' offensive lines, making plays that never showed up on the stat sheet. Consider last year's win over the Vikings, when Albert drew three blockers, allowing DT Tony Brown to stunt into Gus Frerotte's grill, forcing an interception.
When Haynesworth is healthy, playing hard, and not suspended, he's worth every penny of the $41 million of guaranteed money that the Redskins just gave him. He allows a defense to pressure the passer with only four rushers, and by taking up multiple blockers, he allows linebackers to roam free. The Redskins could make a young linebacker from the draft look good behind Haynesworth. Redskins defensive end Andre Carter might benefit the most. He had only four sacks last year, down from 12 in 2007. Now, it'll be impossible to double-team him. Couple that with DE Jason Taylor (if he stays) and the crowd noise at Fed Ex Field, and the Redskins have a scary front-four.
In Nashville—well, not all is lost. You can't blame the Titans for not paying massive coin for a player whose positives and negatives they know so well. Haynesworth is notorious for occasionally loafing, and if his record five-game suspension and $250,000 fine in 2006 didn't change that, neither will a new contract. The Titans still have one of the game's premier defensive line coaches in Jim Washburn and some very good players, including Haynesworth's probable replacement, Jason Jones, who this year against the Steelers recorded 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Tennessee's defensive line will still be good.
But not MVP-worthy. Not anymore.