It was clear to Redskins' fans that Adam Archuleta was made the scapegoat of this failing defense by the coaches. And perhaps some of that is warranted. Ryan Clark's departure from Washington, and his replacement with Archuleta (and ultimately Troy Vincent) was the most notable personnel change in an offense that went from a top 10 unit to the currently 24th ranked defense in the league.
The first insult was Troy Vincent supplanting Adam Archuleta on November 5th against the Cowboys. This was understandable: two weeks prior Indy had put up 36 points on us because AA could not be trusted in coverage. Still, given the amount of money we were/are paying him, there was at least hope that he could find a place on this team. As a backup? Sure. He could contribute on special teams and perhaps get in on running downs as a kind of 4th linebacker. Put him in coverage against a Tight End with help over the top from the safety. I trust his tackling and run stopping enough for that, surely the coaches could as well?
On November 26th against Carolina, Troy Vincent could not play due to injury. Surely Adam Archuleta would get a redeeming shot due to Vincent's injury? Instead the coaching staff essentially spits in his face by putting in Vernon Fox (to his enormous credit he had a great game), a career backup. Archuleta's official spot on the depth chart would now be 3rd behind Vincent and Fox. Once Pierson Prioleau returns this spot moves down, effectively, to 4th. By putting in Fox over Archuleta, the coaches basically made the statement that he is not and never will be good enough to see the field in regular play.
Over a month ago I argued that, given his contract, it was in the team's best interests to try and milk whatever production we could from him. Cutting him immediately will simply cost too much in 2007 dead cap space, and the team would benefit from mitigating the damage by keeping him on and, more importantly, actually using him. He cannot be as bad as the coaches say. Surely there are blitz packages, run scenarios, or even limited coverage situations that he can be trusted in. With safety help over the top he's at least better in coverage than our linebackers, surely.
I stand by that argument. I still think we'd be better off using him now that he's here then either a) paying a ST player millions just to ride the bench, for symbolic reasons or b) cutting him and taking on that dead cap space immediately. I was clinging to the hope that this entire issue could resolve itself with a little professionalism and a frank discussion between the Coaches and Adam Archuleta.
Instead I read about this bizarre situation from Howard Bryant at the Post. It's no surprise that teams reward their players with more official tackles than the league. Bryant outlines some of this:
But wouldn't there be an exception?
The difference is in the review, and, it would appear, how much in favor a player stands with coaches. Holdman has been attacked by opposing defenses weekly in the run game, pushed by rookie Rocky McIntosh for playing time, while Archuleta has fallen far in the eyes of his coaches. Before Archuleta lost his starting job Nov. 5 against Dallas, he had benefited like other players, credited by the league with 42 tackles, while the Redskins had listed Archuleta with 47.
This is effing childish and it extends well beyond merely the "Adam Archuleta situation". Why would anyone want to play for an organization that is so nakedly immature about how it handles castoffs? We get it, you don't like Adam Archuleta and you blame him for the failure of this defense. But docking tackles? That is petty.
Perhaps there is some reasonable explanation for why Adam Archuleta is the exception. It certainly is an odd coincedence, though, that the only player who doesn't "get the benefit of the doubt" also happens to be the one who has been sleighted throughout the year and clearly made an example of. And as much as I want to hate Adam Archuleta for being a non-factor and costing us a fortune, he hasn't been petty about it. You don't hear him in the media publicly dogging the mishandling of his situation.
And a mishandling it is. Everything, from the contract, to the offseason, to the game plan, to the personnel shifts, and now to (perhaps) this petty bullshit recording of tackles will go down in NFL history as a case study in how not to behave as a franchise. Whatever end we see to this Adam Archuleta situation, you can bet that it will end in embarrassment for us.
It didn't have to be.