The time has come for LaVar Arrington to zip it.
We know how much of a competitor he is. We know it is tearing him up to be glued to the sidelines. We know he just wants to understand why he has been reduced to irrelevance by the coaching staff.
We know all this because Arrington issues variations of the same bulletin day after day, week after week. And we know these proclamations cannot be aiding his cause with the coaching staff.
The last thing football coaches want is a disgruntled player, and Arrington has risen to at least that unappealing life form. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose public utterances have come to hang over a team that has shown itself to be competitive this season. He is the riddle of the team. His precipitous fall from grace sets tongues wagging in saloons across the city.
Yet his carping, however understandable on some level, probably is not currying much favor with assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. If anything, Williams has every reason not to reward Arrington with playing time against the Chiefs this Sunday after the linebacker has spent the week questioning the communication process and brain power of the coaches.
When Joe Gibbs feels compelled to say he has communicated with Arrington more than any player in 30 years of coaching, this falls under the heading of: "Uh-oh."
Gibbs is constructing a team-first mind-set with the Redskins, which is at odds with Arrington's me-first appeals. It was his me-first forays on the football field in the past that led this coaching staff to treat Arrington as if he were radioactive material.
Marvin Lewis, the defensive coordinator of the Redskins in 2002, recently sounded the Arrington-the-freelancer theme in a moment of candor that is unusual for someone who is now the head coach of another team.
Arrington dismissed the charge, noting that his 11 sacks led all linebackers in 2002, which, really, in a way, reinforces the freelancing contention imposed on him.
No one ever has accused Arrington of being unable to make the big play. Why, he is a veritable highlight reel. You can be certain if he were in the starting lineup, the Redskins would have forced a few more turnovers than the four in four games.
But with Arrington, there is a cost. How many defensive sets dissolve because of his freelancing? That is a question best answered by those who sift through the game tapes and know which defensive schemes were designed for each of the opposition's offensive plays.
Williams clearly has come to the conclusion that Arrington's big-play ability does not offset his propensity to be out of position. Williams clearly does not trust Arrington to follow the system, at least not yet.
And Arrington is not exactly inspiring trust with his oft-repeated protests.
No, he is not supposed to be happy about his demotion. That is just human nature. But he is supposed to be professional enough to keep the griping to a minimum. By continually taking issue with his lot, he merely reinforces the stereotype that has been foisted on him.
It seems he is a freelancer off the field as well on it.
As it is, there is an element of sympathy around the city for Arrington. His failure to be deployed in Denver was puzzling, to a point. But this is not the time to be having an ongoing snit, not amid the team's growing expectations, and this is not the coaching staff to be questioning.
Arrington cannot win the debate with Gibbs and Williams.
Gibbs is not enshrined in Canton, Ohio, out of pity, and all Williams has done the last two seasons is build a defense that gives the Redskins a chance in each game.
A more substantive approach for Arrington?
Be cool, even if it requires biting your tongue.
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