As we all know, Albert Haynesworth departed Nashville for the financially greener pastures of Washington D.C. last offseason.
To some degree, most of us figured that his absence would be felt on the Titan defense in 2009. Of course, it’s hard for a unit to improve when you lose such a talented specimen who wreaked havoc against the run and pass.
Now that the season is virtually over, it’s time to look back and examine how much Haynesworth was missed by the Titan D in ’09.
Needless to say, Fat Albert’s absence played a key role in the decline of the Tennessee Titan defense this year.
Of course, other factors such as a myriad of injuries at the CB position and the growing pains of rookie defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil contributed to the team’s defensive woes. However, despite their significance, none of the aforementioned factors compared to losing the presence of “Fat Albert” in the middle of the defensive line.
Let’s compare some important defensive stats for the Tennessee Titans with and without Haynesworth in 08/09:
Total D (7th) 293.6
Run D (6th) 93.9
Pass D (9th) 199.8
Sacks (5th) 44
Total D (28th) 369.4
Run D (10th) 104.7
Pass D (31st) 264.7
Sacks (22nd) 29
To the defense’s credit, they did a solid job defending the run despite Albert’s absence. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the pass defense, which tumbled from being one of the league’s best in ’08 to one of the league’s worst in ’09.
Once upon a time, Albert’s ability to command double-teams paid off handsomely for the Titans, as his teammates were able to take advantage of the one-on-one opportunities they received due to Albert’s huge presence.
As you can tell by the stats, with Al’s departure, the sack totals fell dramatically from 2008-2009. Meanwhile, in Washington, Albert’s new teammates have enjoyed his presence as their collective sack total increased from 24 in 2008 to 39 in 2009.
Of course, I’m not going to attribute all of the defensive woes to losing Haynesworth.
Whether it was growing pains or stubbornness, on far too many occasions, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil commanded the defense as if Albert was still there, relying on a front four pass rush to get pressure instead of blitzing more. As we’ve noticed, this often led to the likes of Matt Schaub, David Garrard and Chad Henne sitting comfortably in the pocket as they carved up an often helpless Titans’ pass defense.
However, despite the presence of other factors, even Stevie Wonder can see that the Titans missed Haynesworth on the defensive side of the football in 2009.
So what do you think, guys? What are your thoughts/opinions regarding the absence of Big Al and the effect it had on the Titan defense in ’09?