DeAngelo Hall failed to stop Dez Bryant but talked plenty of trash in the Redskins 18-16 loss to the Cowboys.
You may remember Hall as the player who, prior to Monday night's contest between the Cowboys and Redskins, giddily announced that he would target Dallas quarterback Tony Romo's injured ribs if given the chance. Never one to pass up an opportunity to seek unnecessary attention, Hall assumed the role of provocateur by telling the media that he planned to ask the coaching staff to dial up some corner blitzes so he could try to further hurt Romo.
Hall never ended up hitting Romo during the game, but Romo targeted Hall several times and hurt the Redskins in the process.
For the second week in a row, the Redskins defensive coaching staff tasked Hall with containing the opposing team's best wide receiver, and for the second week in a row, he failed to do so. On Monday night, Hall could not slow down Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant; Romo threw the ball to Bryant four times and Bryant caught each pass for a team-high 63 yards.
Bryant's most significant catch occurred on a third-and-21 with 2:20 left in the game when Romo, under duress from a Redskins blitz, rolled to his right and floated a pass to Bryant who pulled it down for a 30-yard gain. Hall was called for a facemask on the ensuing tackle, adding another 15 yards to the gain and putting the Cowboys in range for what would be the game-winning field goal.
In his post-game comments, rather than give credit to his opponent for getting the best of him or simply keep his mouth shut, Hall criticized Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett for calling an all-out blitz on that third down, implying that the Cowboys didn't have to be rocket scientists to figure out the Redskins' schemes.
Apparently Hall forgot that the Redskins defense was having a lot of success pressuring Romo with heavy blitzes.
More importantly, if Hall was as good a player as he purports to be, he would have put himself in position to either break up that pass, which was far from a laser strike, or tackle Bryant without incident (in fairness to Hall, replays show his hands were at Bryant's collar, not his facemask, but had Hall been in better position on the play, he would not have been forced to lunge at Bryant's neck).
Hall's post-game comments sounded a lot like the self-righteous whining past Redskins players like Albert Haynesworth and Clinton Portis often partook in.
They stand in stark contrast to the team-first attitude that has permeated the Redskins locker room this season and that players have credited with generating a renewed sense of optimism. And Hall's teammates did not echo his criticism of Haslett. Strong safety LaRon Landry, who played like an absolute beast in his first game of the season, defended Haslett's decision in a post-game interview and reiterated that it was not the job of the players to question their coaches.
The majority of the Redskins secondary played exceptionally well on Monday night.
Landry reminded everyone why he is one of the most feared defensive players in the NFL by forcing a fumble late the first quarter with a vicious hit and by coming out of nowhere early in the second quarter to prevent Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson from catching a pass that would have resulted in a first down. Cornerback Josh Wilson batted down several passes and came very close to intercepting two of those passes. Free Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe used his speed to break up what should have been a third-quarter touchdown to Robinson.
Hall was the only player the Cowboys consistently victimized.
This shouldn't surprise fans that have been paying close attention to the Redskins these past two seasons. Every now and then, Hall turns in a magnificent performance like his record-tying four interception game against the Chicago Bears during the 2009-2010 season, but the word that most aptly describes his play is inconsistent.
Hall does not play on a high level week after week; he is not a shut-down corner like Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Hall is a player who has the swagger of an all-pro but the game of a solid role player. His condemnation of Haslett was the last thing the Redskins needed after what was an all around solid effort against a division rival. Monday's loss may be hard to swallow, but the Redskins are still in a prime position to make a playoff run, and they did a lot of things right in a game that was decided by a mere two points.
What the Redskins don't need going forward are distractions in the locker room.
Hall stepped out of line when he criticized the coaching staff, and the Redskins would be better served if the players followed the lead of Landry and assumed responsibility rather than placing the blame on someone else.
Last season, after Hall's aforementioned four-interception game against the Bears, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler told the press that despite Hall's performance he would still "go at him every time" if given the opportunity. Cutler's comments came off as insanely arrogant, and to a degree, they were.
But, in retrospect, they illustrate something that is quite evident: Hall is not a defensive player that strikes fear in the hearts of opposing offenses. He is a serviceable player who talks too much trash, and if he can't tone down his mouth or increase his level of play, the Redskins would be wise to cut him loose.