I have no doubt that the majority of the Raider Nation remember DeAngelo Hall, who returns to the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday as a member of the Washington Redskins. Not very long ago, in fact in March 2008, Al Davis traded second and fifth round draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons for him.
The Raiders also gave Hall a monster contract to go with that trade.
Most experts felt that Hall, teamed with all pro Nnamdi Asomugha, would give Oakland a cornerback duo comparable to Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes.
On the first week of the season, these misconceptions were rudely shattered, as Hall gave up 146 yards on 9 receptions (and a TD) to Denver Broncos rookie receiver Eddie Royal in a 41-10 home defeat.
Hall played no better for Oakland during the rest of his short tenure.
Despite the price they paid for him, the Raiders felt that in the end, the addition by subtraction theory applied very much to DeAngelo Hall, and after another crushing 24-0 loss to the Falcons in week eight, he was released.
In his time in Oakland, Hall showed that he couldn’t stand up in man to man coverage, that he couldn’t tackle, in fact, he couldn’t do much of anything well.
Raiders coach Tom Cable would be well advised to recall that when he puts together his game plan this week.
The Redskins come to Oakland on a three game skid, and having lost 7 of their last 8 games. But they also come in with the league’s ninth ranked defense, and fifth against the pass. Their weakness is against the run where they rank twenty fourth, at 4.2 yards per carry.
That may well suit the Raiders, who are a run first team.
It will be unfortunate if left guard Robert Gallery can’t go after his back spasms last week, as Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is probably as good as it gets, and that matchup would be great to watch.
Even if Oakland can run the ball well though, at some point Bruce Gradkowski and the resurgent Raiders offense will take to the air. When they do so, their experience with Hall, though costly at the time, should be of benefit against a strong Redskins pass defense.
They must know that if they can isolate Hall against a physical receiver like Chaz Schilens on short and medium patterns, that their chances of success are high. Hall can play within a system with help, but without that help he struggles.
The Raiders offense needs to take full advantage of that, and isolate Hall as often as they can.
Hall’s constant criticisms of the Raiders since his release should also provide plenty of motivation for the Raiders to expose him. Al never forgets.
Tom Cable has called to the Oakland faithful to attend this week, to make full use of the home field advantage and get back-to-back wins.
If the Raiders do win on Sunday, there is a very real possibility that they can finish with their best record in 6 years, given that their final two games against Cleveland and Baltimore are very winnable. The Ravens are fading down the stretch, and the Browns are about as bad as it gets.
If Gradkowski starts to prove on Sunday that he really can be the guy, the Raiders might just be on the verge on turning their fortunes around.