Our friend over at the Football Outsiders and Yahoo Sports, Doug Farrar, just wrote an interesting post how Haynesworth actually thrived in 3-4 situations last year. Typical Doug, it comes with the play diagrams to illustrate all the plays.
Haynesworth may be unhappy with the 3-4 concept, but when the Redskins went with a three-man front in 2009, he was still able to get past offensive linemen and make things happen. Two plays from Washington's Week 15 loss to the Giants clued me into Haynesworth's potential in a 3-4, and how the overall scheme might work under Haslett.
Now for the details...
On [the first] play, Haynesworth (92) employed a swim move to jet inside as Manning threw an incompletion on a quick out to receiver Hakeem Nicks(notes). The Redskins were actually set up to stop the run, and they ran a slide to the right side with Haynesworth cutting back. He still has the ability to disrupt in the middle, able to hand-fight his way through blockers. Before Haynesworth shuts down the idea of playing the nose in this role, he should watch some film of Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff(notes), who has recorded up 21½ sacks since his rookie season of 2005 - just two fewer than Haynesworth has amassed since 2005 in supposedly more favorable settings for sack numbers.
I asked Doug, "Isn't it different since the Redskins weren't showing a 3-4? When you show a 3-4, it's much easier to attack that nose tackle versus a 4-3 where Albert can pick a gap and deal with two blockers." Doug responded:
Yeah, but with Orakpo and Carter in there, they'll be running a lot of four and five-man fronts. Even if they show 3-4 with outside rushers, a good nose should be able to penetrate, which is why I brought up Ratliff. It won't likely be like the 3-4 Dom Capers was running before the light went on with Clay Matthews; it should be more pressure-based. That should help Haynesworth as much as it would supposedly take sacks and pressures away from him.
So, really, the moral of the story is. Albert, get your ass into camp and let's make this work. You're a beast, you got paid, let's do this. With you in there, the rest of the line's job ins infinitely better. So suck it up.
Albert, whether fair or not, would probably say, "Yea, I don't mind doing 3-4 plays a couple times a game, but not all the time." Well, as Doug highlighted, the Redskins will be showing a lot of different line schemes.