Just how good is Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall? GREAT, will say Redskins fans and coaches who will point to Hall's selection to the Pro Bowl, where he was named MVP.
Not so fast there, cowboy.
Hall made the Pro Bowl on the strength of his 16 passes defended and six interceptions. Manna from Heaven for a defense that smothered teams in 2008 and 2009 without disrupting their offense. You could move the ball against Washington in 2009. It just took a long, long time.
The wonks at Football Outsiders crunched the numbers and ranked Hall No. 3 on their list of Worst Cornerbacks of 2010. Hall allowed 10.5 yards per catch and had a 39 percent success rate. Football Outsiders defines success rate as is the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.
Interception is a gaudy stat that can outweigh coverage skills to fans. Quarterbacks are not impressed. They target Hall. Jay Cutler, who completed four INTs to Hall when Washington visited Chicago, said after that game "I'd go after him every time."
The Raiders dumped Hall in 2008 after three games, pointing to his man-to-man coverage skills for cause. Hall does tend to play better from the zone than man-to-man, as regular readers of Redskins Hog Heaven have heard.
Washington signed free agent safety OJ Atogwe. With an upgrade at free safety, Washington may be better positioned to let Hall jump pass routes because of more help over the top.
Here's the punch line of this story. Football Outsiders reported their analysis of the ten best cornerbacks of 2010. They ranked ex-Redskin CB Justin Tryon third best in yards-per-pass and sixth best in yards after the catch.
This isn't to bash Hall, or the Redskins for releasing Tyron. Players have to fit a system and be compatible with the coaches. Hall didn't fit Oakland's scheme, but he is doing OK here, not perfect but OK. Hall is the designated playmaker in Washington's secondary. It's why he makes the big bucks. The best cornerback for coverage and stops is Carlos Rogers. The 'Skins would be wise to keep Rogers.
Greg Blache and company gave up of Tryon, but he is thriving with the Colts.
When the Redskins bring new players in, which they will do a lot of this year, lets hold our applause until we understand how they will be used and how well they get on with the coaches. (cough: "Haynesworth")
Numbers can confirm or confound what we think we see on the field. That's what Football Outsiders did to us with Hall. It comes to this. More than any other sport, players are cogs in a football machine. Replacing the cog won't necessarily improve the machine. (cough: "Haynesworth") It's a matter of fit. DeAngelo Hall didn't fit in Oakland. He fits here.
Just know that Hall is going to be targeted...a lot and for good reason.