Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Fall of Fat Albert ... Plus Five Others Who Should Follow
By Bill Barnwell
It was time for Albert Haynesworth to go. After being lauded as the next great reclamation project in New England before he ever took a snap (and then fell down) in anger, Haynesworth was alternately ineffective and injured during most of his tenure. The final straw came last week, when Haynesworth followed a holding penalty in the second quarter with what Boston Globe NFL writer Greg Bedard called "...three of the worst plays you will see out of an NFL defensive tackle." His time was up.
Haynesworth isn't the only player whose time should be up, though; there are veterans around the league who are simply collecting a paycheck they don't deserve and occupying playing time that should be going to younger, hungrier players. (Yes, Chad Ochocinco is one of them, but we are contractually limited to only one Pats kick-in-the-teeth per post by our editor in chief.)
Martellus Bennett, TE, Dallas Dallas's second-round pick in the 2008 draft, Bennett initially attracted attention for his candor . His brief tenure as a blogger for the Dallas Morning News explored the moral and ethical concerns of female flatulence before he released a homophobic rap song and mostly disappeared from public view. As a player, the Cowboys hoped to harness Bennett's athleticism and develop him into their next great tight end, but he coasted on his physical abilities in college and never adjusted to the pro grind. His propensity for ill-timed fumbles and painful drops also might serve to distract fans from criticizing Tony Romo, which could be a positive, but he's taking snaps away from a superior player in John Phillips. If he was a fourth-round pick, the Cowboys would have cut him months ago.
Lee Evans, WR, Baltimore Trading for Evans in trading camp made perfect sense: the Ravens needed a deep threat to complement Anquan Boldin and stretch the field for their running game, and the seemingly-hopeless Bills had no use for a veteran wide receiver due to make $3.3 million. A lot has changed in two months. Evans injured his foot in training camp and hasn't played since September 18. In the meantime, rookie Torrey Smith has emerged as a viable (if inconsistent) downfield receiver for Joe Flacco, and the only way for him to develop that consistency is to stay on the field. The Ravens know that, and when Evans comes back, he'll be an overpaid backup receiver who doesn't contribute on special teams. They should let him go elsewhere. Buffalo could use a deep threat right about now.
Todd Heap, TE, Arizona The Ravens cut Heap this offseason in an attempt to free up salary for the likes of Evans and create playing time for young tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Dickson and Pitta have been competent, but they've yet to emerge as impact players. Heap, meanwhile, has spent half his season nursing a hamstring injury. The team should spend the rest of the season going through their young talent and identifying who belongs on the 2012 Cardinals, and Heap would be better off signing with a competitive team for a playoff run. With Baltimore playing out of two-tight ends sets so frequently, Heap would actually be a good fit for 20 snaps a game or so in Charm City.
Shaun Rogers, DT, New Orleans The mammoth Rogers was one of the few free agents who signed with a team before the lockout, and while the Saints weren't expecting him to be an every-down force on the interior, they were clearly hoping that Rogers could help their run defense and shut down teams at the goal line. Instead, the Saints have allowed 5.3 yards per carry and given up touchdowns on 71.4 percent of red zone possessions, both of which rank as the worst in football. Rogers doesn't have a single tackle for a loss on a run play all season, and when the media asked defensive coordinator Gregg Williams how Rogers was grading this season, Williams said, "I’ll keep my fingers crossed. They’re playing as hard as they can play."
Jason Taylor, LB, Miami Taylor's second homecoming hasn't fared quite as well as the 2009 installment. Then, he was a viable starter on a competitive team. Now, Taylor is playing out the string as a situational pass-rusher on a 1-7 squad. It would be one thing if Taylor were getting some significant push across from Cameron Wake, but he has just two sacks in eight games, and one of them came against Tim Tebow, who gets sacked as a matter of habit. If Taylor ever reaches for his hamstring or even grimaces slightly in practice, the Dolphins should place him on injured reserve and allow him a dignified way out as quickly as possible.