Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been voted to two Pro Bowls. He has a new six-year, $54 million contract with the Washington Redskins that includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money. But during his successful first five NFL seasons, Hall never had to cover Randy Moss.
Until Friday night. In the third game of the preseason against Moss and the New England Patriots, Hall looked more like a rookie than one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks.
While Moss and New England quarterback Tom Brady are both destined for busts in Canton, they still shouldn’t be able to turn Hall around like a revolving door as happened during the Redskins’ 27-24 loss to the powerful Patriots at FedEx Field.
Hall’s rough night began midway through the second series for the Redskins’ ballyhooed first-string defense. The 6-foot-4 Moss got free of 5-10 Hall on a simple slant route across the middle for a 13-yard gain to the Washington 46. Two plays later, Moss got behind Hall in the right corner of the end zone and hauled in a 26-yard touchdown that tied the score at 7-7.
When the Patriots got the ball back, Moss got open for another first down against zone coverage. Four plays later, Moss worked free of Hall on a 5-yard toss. But in order to prevent the bigger man from turning it up the field, Hall tugged on his facemask, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
After running back Fred Taylor was swarmed for no gain, Moss beat Hall for 9 yards. On the next play, the coverage scheme dictated that the former Virginia Tech standout pass Moss along to safety LaRon Landry, who was torched for a 27-yard score that made it 14-7.
By halftime, Moss had six catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns and was done for the night. Hall followed suit after one series in the second half.
Thursday’s preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose top receiver, Torry Holt, is only 6 feet, won’t give Hall the opportunity to bounce back against a much bigger man. And despite his superior coverage ability and ball skills, Hall might well yield the usual responsibility for an opponent’s bigger receiver during the season to 6-foot counterpart Carlos Rogers. However, given that 2008 was the first of Rogers’ four seasons in which he played every game, Hall might well find himself dealing with such wideouts.
The good news for Hall is that the Redskins don’t play the Patriots when it counts this season. Nor do they face the NFC’s best big receiver, Larry Fitzgerald of the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals.
Two of Washington’s three NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, have rid themselves of problematic but talented big receivers, Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress.