On Monday night, Gruden said on at least three occasions that Washington coach Mike Shanahan had done a tremendous or outstanding (or perhaps tremendously outstanding) job of rebuilding the Washington roster with players who really care about football. That's obviously a thinly veiled shot at former Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth(notes), who Shanahan went to war with all last season. If you listen to Gruden, it's clear that after just two games this season, Shanahan had completely fixed the Redskins. Only thing left was to print the playoff tickets.
Then the Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys 18-16 on Monday and Hall pulled the pin on an emotional hand grenade.
[ Related: Tony Romo overcomes pain to lead 'Boys past 'Skins ]
After getting burned for a 30-yard reception by Dez Bryant(notes) on a critical third-and-21 play and adding insult to the situation with a 15-yard facemask penalty, Hall took issue with everything. Most important, Hall took no blame as his 45-yard mistake put Dallas in position for the game-winning field goal. On a team coached by Shanahan, that's akin flipping off the head coach on national TV.
"That was a [expletive] terrible call," Hall told CSNWashington.com. "I told the ref he's going to [expletive] lose his job. I told the ref, 'That might have been the worst call of the game.' He's going to get some demerit points for that call because that wasn't no facemask."
Sadly, Hall is wrong. If you watched the replay of the play, it was a facemask. Furthermore, if you watched the whole game, it wasn't the only time Bryant burned Hall, who also put himself under the microscope going into this game by saying he wanted to blitz and take a shot at Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo's(notes) broken ribs. That was big talk for a guy who has one sack in his eight-year career.
Second, Hall then took a shot at Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, whose questionable decision to call an all-out blitz on the game-turning third down left Hall in man coverage. Generally, when an offense has that far to go, the call should be for coverage, but Haslett likely surmised that Dallas was in two-down territory.
Either way, Hall shredded him.
"You ain't supposed to have to [cover for that long], but [expletive] happens," Hall said.
The Redskins spent much of the game blitzing and held the Cowboys without a touchdown. That didn't seem to matter to Hall.
"Yeah, but sooner or later, somebody is going [bleeping] figure it out," Hall said. "You don't have to be a [bleeping] rocket scientist to figure it out after awhile."
Hall topped it off with another shot when asked if Haslett called the wrong play.
"You tell me. The result was a first down," Hall said.
[ Related: Bad chemistry between Tony Romo and Phil Costa ]
Of course, all this means Hall can expect an icy reception at practice Wednesday. Moreover, Hall can expect a brutal relationship to unfold with Shanahan unless he apologizes quickly. As has been noted by Yahoo! Sports colleague Les Carpenter, Shanahan is one vindictive guy. Last year, Shanahan seemed to spend more time trying to embarrass Haynesworth than winning games.
If Hall, a guy who doesn't take criticism well, doesn't fix this fast, Washington could be headed for another year of infighting.
Windy City trickery
Kudos to the Bears' punt return unit for coming up with a great fake by Devin Hester(notes) to spring Johnny Knox(notes) for a touchdown with less than a minute left during the loss to Green Bay. Sadly, the play was called back because of an unnecessary holding penalty. The fake could be used in a number of ways in the future if teams put multiple returners in formation rather than try to block the kick or block the flyers. You could have some great chess games between the return and coverage units as a result of that fake.
Brewing problem within NFLPA
The NFL Players Association can try to explain this situation in any numbers of ways, but the union has a problem to deal with internally. In the haste to get a collective bargaining agreement done in August, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith agreed that eight players whom the league designated as "repeat offenders" could be subjected to punishment under the personal conduct policy. Included in that group is running back Cedric Benson(notes), who was reportedly informed last week that he's facing a three-game suspension. While no one, particularly the rank-and-file of the union, is fond of the idea of defending guys like Benson, Aqib Talib(notes) and Albert Haynesworth, there is also a pushback by that group against the perceived power of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. That's particularly true in light of the five-game suspension Terrelle Pryor(notes) had to accept upon being admitted to the NFL. Thus, Smith has to explain to his players why he allowed Goodell such power for events during the lockout. Over the weekend, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah reacted to the news by saying: "We believe that no player should be subjected to discipline for incidents occurring during the lockout. The NFL and the NFLPA signed a side letter to the CBA that resolved and absolved 25 players of conduct related issues. We retain all of our rights and ability to challenge any player discipline related to incidents occurring during the lockout." OK, but that leads to one question Attalah has yet to answer: If the NFLPA believes no player should be subjected to such discipline, why did it agree that any players could be disciplined?
1. Green Bay Packers (3-0): With Denver, Atlanta, St. Louis and Minnesota coming up, the Packers should have a cake walk to 7-0 by the bye.
2. Detroit Lions (3-0): Can the Lions possibly go to Dallas and redefine who's Big D in the NFL this season? That would be something.
3. Buffalo Bills (3-0): For all those who mocked my ranking of the Bills last week … what do you think of me now?
4. New Orleans Saints (2-1): Four of next five games are on the road, but none of the contests are overwhelmingly tough, starting with Jacksonville on Sunday.
5. New England Patriots (2-1): The next six games are nothing short of brutal, including both games with the Jets.
[ Related: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills get Patriots' attention ]
Bottom five (The Suck for Luck Derby)
28. St. Louis Rams (0-3): Well, with Sam Bradford(notes) around, the Rams aren't in the No. 1 sweepstakes, but it's time for Bradford to make progress.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-3): With Minnesota and Indy up next, the race for Luck is in high gear.
30. Indianapolis Colts (0-3): Four of the next five contests are on the road, although Cincinnati is one of those games. Colts staring at a 1-7 midseason mark.
31. Minnesota Vikings (0-3): Blowing double-digit leads at home in back-to-back games would be worthy of the bottom spot if not for …
32. Miami Dolphins (0-3): Three games into the season and fans are already asking who the next head coach is going to be. That's brutal.
This and that
• Memo to ESPN: Not only do you need to put a leash on Gruden's constant fawning over anybody who has ever worn a jockstrap, please put an end to the insipid pregame interviews that he does before Monday night games. Having Gruden sit there and pal around with guys like Romo would be great if Gruden actually got some information out of them or asked a decent question. Asking things like, "This Cowboys-Redskins rivalry is real, huh?" does not qualify as a question nor did it illicit a good response. Gruden is best when he's reacting to a situation as if he were still standing on the sideline coaching a game. When he's in a programmed setting trying to convey a message, he's terrible.
• While it's nice to see Rex Grossman(notes) playing well, the scouting report on him hasn't changed. Grossman can't read a zone coverage to save his life and the game against Dallas provided the latest example. The interception to linebacker Sean Lee(notes) was a prototypical Grossman mistake where he missed a fairly simple zone.
• Yeah, it's early and there should be plenty of caution attached to Detroit's 3-0 start. However, with the Lions and Packers both undefeated, there is hope that the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit will mean something this year. The Packers visit the Lions for the first of three games that day. After years of meaningless and/or lopsided games, the Lions could be playing in a game that has serious implications. Pretty cool to consider.
• If you think things are bad with the winless Dolphins, where the media is already guessing who will succeed coach Tony Sparano, the morale around the club is about to get worse. The team is expected to fire 15 employees who work primarily at SunLife Stadium, two club sources said. The layoffs are connected to the move of the Florida Marlins at the end of the baseball season this week to a new park closer to downtown Miami. One of the team sources said SunLife will go from hosting more than 100 events a year to approximately 25 between the Dolphins, the University of Miami and other special engagements, such as bowl games and concerts. The layoffs would have occurred even if the Dolphins, who are struggling with attendance, were selling out games, the source said. The move will trim approximately $1.2 million from the payroll, according to the second source. There is internal resentment because the layoffs come despite continued high-end spending by team executives. For instance, one exec recently spent $5,000 on a pair of champagne bottles at the team's annual cheerleader calendar debut, according to the second source. In defense of the team, the cheerleader event is a money maker.
• Despite the frustrating loss against Buffalo, give New England coach Bill Belichick some credit in the humor department this past week. First, there was the exchange with a reporter who was asking about the 10th anniversary of the hit on Drew Bledsoe that put Tom Brady(notes) in the starting lineup. Belichick was asked if he ever looks back at that moment. "No, obviously I'm aware of it and all but no, I don't sit around and reflect on [it] … I don't have to write a column about it." Belichick was then asked about his trouble with car gadgets, such as trying to set the clock in his vehicle. Belichick admitted that, "I'm terrible at that stuff, it's bad. If I didn't have some younger people in my life that understood that, I'd be at a total loss." Belichick, who two years ago at the NFL owner meetings quoted Bob Dylan, then turned to a slightly lesser source. "The more stuff there is, the more stuff there is that can go wrong. But when it works, it's great. [It's like the] great line from Curly in The Three Stooges. He gets in the car and says, 'Hey what's wrong with this car?' " The punch line: "I don't know, it seems fine. The clock is working.' "
• For people looking at interesting coaching prospects, it should be noted that Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has done some interesting things. So far, No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton(notes) is faring much better than expected in leading the Panthers to a 1-2 record. More impressive, it was Chudzinski who helped turn Derek Anderson(notes) into a Pro Bowler in 2007 (29 TD passes, 19 interceptions). Although things fell apart in Cleveland the following season when injuries hit, Anderson threw 38 touchdown passes compared to 27 interceptions with Chudzinski. For the rest of his career, Anderson's totals are 15-28.
• It was interesting to read last week that 44-year-old Jeff George, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1990 NFL draft, thinks he could pick up the Colts' offense in a few days and help out his hometown team. Sadly, you have to think that if George had wanted to play this bad when he was 23, he might have actually made something out of his career.
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