Thursday, January 12, 2012

DeAngelo Hall

I've mentioned before my desire to replace DHall in the starting lineup. Opinion on him varies as many football-savvy people consider him terrible (largely due to metrics, a lot of the time, and the way he performed at the end of his time in Atlanta and then in Oakland), with casual fans often thinking he's a great corner. Among Redskins fans, the opinions are similarly diverse with some hating him and blaming him for being childish and getting burnt (particularly by Dez Bryant, twice) and others calling him our legit #1 corner for a few years, as evidenced by his Pro Bowl berth last season. Most of what comes out from the team about him is positive about his overall abilities and play (if negative about specific games or instances).

Often the truth is somewhere in the middle, as was the case last year, in my opinion. Hall simply did not deserve to go to the pro bowl, and got there largely on the back of his 4-interception whipping of Jay Cutler. However, he was indeed a good corner for us. He's often been inconsistent, and is definitely prone to giving up big plays, but he's also had a penchant for making big plays to offset that, and is undeniably talented, both in terms of physical attributes and ball skills.

This year, however, he's simply been awful. His bad facets-- proneness to being burnt and making mistakes, occasional immaturity-- have been amplified while his positives-- ability to make huge plays, create turnovers, energize a team and change a game-- has been a fraction of what it was in past years. There have still been flashses, like his beautiful one-handed interception against the Giants in their week 15 routing (pictured to the left from this Washington Post article), but such examples have been few and far between.

Anyway, profootballfocus.com has released it's regular season stats and recently made a post on the statistically best and worst cornerbacks, per their metrics, formulas, and film review.

Here's how Hall finished out of the 66 cornerbacks they considered starters:
>60th in completion percentage allowed with 63 completions on 94 targets (67%)
>4th most yards allowed (858)

It needs to be noted that, 1) Hall always finishes poorly on these lists due to his style, and some of that is accepted and mitigated by his play-making; and 2) Pro Football Focus provides the caveat that things such as playing in the slot more, which inherently involves allowing more completions and applies to many of their worst-ranking corners in terms of completion percentage, are not taken into account by the ranking.

Still, it's obviously not a good showing. While Hall always looks bad on this list, this year he finished worse than usual, and as stated, there was a lot less playmaking to counteract what he allows by opposing receivers. To make matters worse, his gambling style should have been helped by our Ryan Kerrigan-feuled improvement in pass rushing (which leads to rushed decisions and premature throws by quarterbacks), with the Redskins finishing 10th in the league with 41 sacks, compared to last year's 29, and an even greater improvement in QB hits and hurries.

Instead, he regressed. Despite this and constant injuries to SS LaRon Landry and FS OJ Atogwe, as my previous post pointed out, the secondary finished relatively well, so it's clear that the addition of a top-notch corner to start opposite Josh Wilson could allow the unit to grow into an elite one.

As I've covered before, Hall is also prone to immaturity and outbursts, like throwing the official's flag and flashy quotes in the media, so making him a team captain was probably a bad move, despite his clear passion and energy.

I don't hate Hall as a person or player, or think he's incapable of helping any team, or our team, but he's a starting cornerback, a team captain, and very well-paid, and he simply is not coming even close to living up to that right now. Given all the corners in both this draft class and entering free agency this year, I definitely hope the position is addressed. Wilson is a very good corner who especially shined down the line, and I'm still very happy that we signed him, but he's no all-pro. If either or both he and Hall were playing behind a real lockdown guy, it would benefit everyone.

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