THN Weekly with Andre Carter - Week 14
By: Jake Russell @_JakeRussell
Posted: 2010-12-10
Category: Washington Redskins News
In Week 13, the Redskins yet again failed to compete against their toughest division nemesis over the last decade, the New York Giants. At 5-6, the Redskins had an outside shot at the playoffs but after a mistake-laden 31-7 blowout in the New Meadowlands Stadium that dropped them to 5-7, the postseason looks further away than ever before.

What hurt the team the most against New York was the continued ineptitude on offense along with the defense’s bad tackling.

“On the defensive side, we need to tackle better,” linebacker Andre Carter said. “Our tackling was very poor this past Sunday and that's an area where we have been great. Another area (where we need to improve) is starting off fast from the jump and setting the tempo. When we control those factors, then anything is possible.”

Against the Redskins, the Giants scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time all season, Ahmad Bradshaw reached the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career, Brandon Jacobs ran for his first 100 yard game in over two years, and each of those two men scored two touchdowns. To top that off, the Redskins have lost nine of their last 11 games against the “G-Men.”

But in Washington, that wasn’t even the biggest story. Yet again, Albert Haynesworth stole the headlines after he was deactivated by Head Coach Mike Shanahan just before the game due to his performance in practice late in the week before showing up late to a team meeting the next day.

More controversy arose on Monday night after reports surfaced that he appeared “hungover” arriving at Redskins Park last Friday morning before the meeting. This Tuesday, Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen decided to suspend Haynesworth for the final four games of the season without pay.

“It's all business,” Carter said. “The head man has a standard in how we operate: being on time with meetings, [show a] great work ethic on and off the field, etc. If you can't meet that criteria, then the team needs to go in a different direction.”

Haynesworth’s biggest problems were his lack of flexibility in adapting to his new role on the defense and not following the directions of the coaches.

“I understood where he was coming from,” Carter said when asked about Albert not wanting to change positions. “At the same time you have to be a professional. You embrace the game and understand that football is a team concept. It started to become a headache and the issues started getting old.”

Carter said that the team bought in to the changes of the 3-4 but Albert marched to the beat of his own drum.

“Everyone was on board because we love the game and our goal was to win. Albert wanted to win as well but his beliefs as an individual were different compared to the ideas as a team.”

For an athlete playing a team sport, one of the most important concepts to understand is selflessness, a trait that Albert has not brought to the table since arriving almost two years ago.

Will he ever really grasp the concept of “team”?

“I really don't know,” Carter said. “I hope one day he will understand the concept because the moment he understands, he can have longevity in the league.”

When Carter was asked to move from a defensive end to a linebacker this past offseason, he wasn’t pleased about it but he accepted it, moved on, and didn’t complain about it. He said he wouldn’t have handled it any other way, especially the way Haynesworth went about voicing his displeasure.

“I can't imagine myself handling the position change the way Albert did. Not only myself but other players had to adapt to the scheme. That’s the nature of the business. The league is always evolving and as players and coaches you adapt to the new stages year-by-year,” Carter said.

“I am a professional and as much as I didn't want to play this position, I am a prideful man who loves the game and loves to compete. If you complain, the days seem longer. If you are positive and believe that good will come out of it then the days will be easier. I learned about myself and this season from a personal faith in God and myself. So I am thankful regardless of the circumstances.”

While Carter may have the same opinion of some fans when it comes to how Haynesworth is viewed on-the-field, he gives a ringing endorsement to Albert’s off-the-field character, which is contrary to how most fans and media feel about him.

“[Albert is] one of the greatest men I have known off the field. He is a comedian and is known to crack a joke or two here and there. He's very attentive to his kids and can be deep in certain conversations. On the field, he's a player who is difficult to comprehend,” Carter said.

This suspension raises the question as to whether or not Haynesworth will return to the team in 2011, which seems unlikely at this point. Most fans have soured on him so far but Carter would like for him to return next year but under one condition.

“I would like him back without the drama,” Carter said.

A lot of teammates may agree with Carter’s sentiment but another large roster reconstruction is expected this upcoming offseason in order to help bring in personnel that are better-suited to fit the zone blocking scheme on offense and the 3-4 on defense. Even with an impending lockout looming, it wouldn’t shock Carter to see the team make some moves to get drastically younger.

“I wouldn't be surprised if the Redskins decide to go for younger players in the offseason. I am not a soothsayer, however, I have seen it time and time again throughout the league. It's business. Nothing personal,” Carter said.

Getting younger is what propelled the Redskins next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, from a 3-13 season in 2009 to their current 7-5 record. Carter may be the only person outside of Tampa who expected this kind of a turnaround.

“I'm not surprised. I had a feeling they were going to be contenders this season.”

The Bucs began their reconstruction in the 2009 offseason when they released established veterans such as linebacker Derrick Brooks, running back Warrick Dunn, and wide receiver Joey Galloway. Tampa Bay felt the need to get younger in order to be successful and so far it has been paying off for them.

“Usually that's the case. Last season for the Bucs was a rebuilding year. They needed to grow and mature through the highs and lows. Observing them this season, they have an extra pep in their step and the players respect each other. That's big because the season can be a grind. It's evident that the players are performing for each other,” Carter said.

If the Redskins put forth that type of mindset to use in these final four weeks, it will be a big indicator as to how many of these players will keep their jobs next season.

Fan Questions:

Kilmer72: Andre, I would love to hear about how the Redskins feel about the Giants rivalry compared to the Cowboys and Eagles as a Redskin. Let us face it, we have a bad record against the Giants, so how does this compare?

AC: I think all the teams are intense in our NFC East division. Are some games more intense than others? I personally don't think so. We have always had some physical battles and intense quarters during my tenure here since ‘06.

PAPDOG67: Andre, why does it seem that the Giants physically dominate us every time they play us in the last 4-5 years? We don't see that with any other team but them.

AC: I really don't know but I feel your pain from a fan perspective. I really don't know why we come out flat but it's disappointing and we are becoming fed up with it.

KazooSkinsFan: Is there anything you can point to that would give fans hope our defense is actually making progress in the switch to the 3-4? I'm sad to say I'm not seeing it.

AC: The 3-4 is a process and takes time. Even though we are not the Pittsburgh Steelers, I think football fanatics forget how rough they had it when the defense made that transition. Once a defense masters it, the scheme can be the real deal. Like anything new, it's a learning process.

skinpride1: Mr. Carter, do you feel Brian Orakpo and yourself are not being used correctly on the field to pressure the QB and generate sacks and turnovers?

AC: We are being used the best way possible. Brian is having a great year getting sacks and I am doing what I can despite my situation. It's all a process.
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