September 20, 2010
Though Dan Snyder may own the Washington Redskins (much to the consternation of most ‘Skins fans), it now appears the team's defense is in the possession of one DeAngelo Hall(notes). The moderately talented and highly mercurial cornerback was supremely displeased after his team lost in overtime to the Houston Texans, 30-27, after holding a 27-10 lead late into the third quarter. In particular, the strategy by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to leave each cornerback on one side made Hall unhappy, because of the supposed advantage the Redskins would derive by putting Hall on All-World receiver Andre Johnson(notes) on a no-matter-what-side-he's-on basis.
Hall was especially put out about the play that tied the game for the Texans with 2:03 left in regulation: a 34-yard pass from quarterback Matt Schaub(notes) to Johnson on fourth-and-10 for a touchdown. Johnson out-jumped the coverage, which didn't include Hall, who was nowhere near the ball. And according to Hall, the strategy is going to change from here on out.
"That's how it was. That ain't how it's going to be from here on out. I'm going to be wherever the [expletive] ball's going," Hall said after the game. "Wherever the receiver's going, that's where the [expletive] I'm going. That's the bottom line. That's something we got to do in order to win games. So that's what's going to happen."
And what if Haslett sees things another way? "It don't matter what he say," Hall said. "It don't matter what he say. This my team. This my defense. So I'm [going to] follow the receivers around. That's what I'm [going to do]. If we got to do that to win games, that's what we do."
According to the Washington Post, Hall has mentioned his distress about his role to Haslett in the past. "It's been something that I've been doing," Hall said. "We hadn't, I guess, felt like we needed to. But like I said, I feel like we need to. ... 'Has' knows me. He's seen me play over the years. He knows I like to do that."
Hall frequently lined up against his opponent's top receiver when he played for the Atlanta Falcons, though he rarely did so when he was with the Oakland Raiders for half a season in 2008 -- he had Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), who was unquestionably the best cornerback in the game at the time, on the other side. And though Hall has the raw physical talent to be a lead cornerback in the NFL, the knock on him (besides the fact that he can be an A-1 pain in the butt) is that he's too inconsistent to be relied on at that level.
This was certainly true in Oakland; when the Raiders cut him in November of 2008, their defense improved drastically with replacement-level players in his stead. Hall struggled in the kind of man-on-man coverage the Raiders prefer (and the kind that was played on Johnson's late touchdown). Hall was effective in Washington's 2009 defense, which played to his strengths and provided help in the pass rush for all of the Redskins' defensive backs, but he hardly has been the kind of lockdown corner you'd expect, given the extent to which he shoots off his mouth. Going off the grid and threatening to run the defense his way is the last thing a Redskins team infused with the curse of Albert Haynesworth(notes) needs.
"I couldn't figure it out ... we were dominating those guys, hitting Schaub whenever we wanted to," Hall said of the man who threw for a franchise-record 497 yards. "He was falling down without anybody even around him like Peyton Manning(notes) does a lot. I don't know what transpired from [the third quarter to the fourth], all in the middle of that, to spark that comeback and us eventually losing."
This Sunday, the Redskins travel to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, where Hall ostensibly will dazzle young Sam Bradford(notes) with his greatness. Note to Mr. Bradford: If it seems as if Hall is in two places at once ... it's because he might be (Wooooo!).
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