Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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01 Oct 2008

Cover-3: Redemption Song

Oakland Raiders Cornerback DeAngelo Hall

San Diego Chargers 28 at Oakland Raiders 18

On the occasion of the most bizarre coach-firing press conference in NFL history, it's a good time to revisit the off-season free agency decisions made by the Oakland Raiders. There was the six-year, $55-million deal given to receiver Javon Walker (he of the four catches for 52 yards this season). Then, the seven-year, $50.5 million deal given to defensive lineman Tommy Kelly (2008 stats: 1 DUI arrest, 0 sacks). And finally, there was perhaps the least defensible contract, the seven-year, $66.28 million deal given to ex-Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

To quote Bill Simmons, this never would have happened when Al Davis was alive. The Raiders have long been known as a skilled franchise in their evaluation of defensive backs: From all-timer Willie Brown to current star Nnamdi Asomugha, there's a long list. John Madden recalled in more than one of his books how much Davis was involved in cornerback selection. It's what makes the Hall signing so bizarre -- not only was Hall well-known as a terribly overrated player in Atlanta, but the Raiders were diverting money away from Asomugha, who they eventually had to franchise. Against the Chargers last Sunday, with Asomugha limited due to a fractured elbow, we saw the graphic difference between the two cornerbacks.

I'll give Philip Rivers credit for doing what some quarterbacks don't -- he did try and throw at Asomugha. With five minutes left in the first quarter, the Chargers had third-and-7 from their own 32, and set up in a four-receiver formation with three to the right and Asomugha covering Chris Chambers on the other side with a tight press at the line. As the Raiders blitzed from their left, Rivers tried to get a quick sideline pass off to Chambers before Asomugha could turn around. Asomugha read the play at sort of half-turn and got an arm up at just the right time to deflect the ball. I swear; this guy has eyes in the back of his head. Maybe the Chargers thought they could take advantage of the injured version of the NFL's best cornerback. Maybe they were wrong.

According to FO game-charting data, Asomugha allowed 8.7 yards per completion and 4.7 yards per attempt through the first three weeks of the 2008 season. Hall, on the other hand, was rocking a Jason David-esque 15.0 per completion and 9.4 per attempt. Opposing quarterbacks had targeted Asomugha 10 times, Hall 26.

As we said on the cover of Pro Football Prospectus 2008, Asomugha's name might as well mean "Throw to the other side." If you're wondering why, let's take a look at the plays in which Hall was listed as the primary cover man in the play-by-play against the Chargers.

Early in the first quarter, the Chargers lined up on first-and-10 from their own 24 in an offset-I, with Antonio Gates in motion right to left. This took safety Michael Huff away from the left corner, where Hall was playing. Hall was about seven yards off the line at the snap, and out of position when Chambers ran a skinny post to the San Diego 45. Chambers actually bobbled the first attempt at the catch, the ball went over Hall's head, and Chambers recovered to take the ball in around midfield. Hall was never in a position to make a play -- he broke late as Chambers started inside, and he was just out of reach on the bobble. Given the depth at which Hall was playing, that's just bad work out there.

Hall redeemed himself momentarily with 5:26 left in the first half. The Chargers came out in an offset-I on first-and-10 from their own 26. Hall played close on Vincent Jackson out wide. Jackson took off straight downfield, but Hall trailed him well all the way and broke the play up at the Oakland 45. Jackson got outside Hall to the sideline, but Hall took advantage of that by maintaining inside position, making the ball from Rivers very tough to catch. Hall got a bit ahead of Jackson just as the ball was coming in, got his right hand between Jackson's hands as both players were still going full speed, and got enough air after Jackson jumped to break up the pass. You can't cover a deep route, man-on-man, with no safety help, much better than that.

On third-and 15 with 5:25 left in the third quarter, the Chargers went shotgun, two backs, three-wide. Oakland had five at the line (including Asomugha), but dropped all but three pre-snap. Rivers threw a pass he'll have a tough time explaining awayon film day, trying to force one deep and inside to Jackson with safety Michael Huff and cornerback Tyvon Branch in front of the receiver. The pass was tipped, and Hall got the gift at the Oakland 42. That pass never should have been thrown; Hall was less a cover man and more an innocent bystander.

A few minutes later, San Diego had Jackson in the left slot on second-and-10 from the Oakland 47, and Hall was playing inside in the nickel. He was so far off the line that he was out of the picture, literally ten yards off the receiver. Jackson ran an easy deep out as Hall played behind, making a cosmetic tackle in what amounted to absentee coverage.

On the next play, Hall was at left corner up on the line on Chambers. Chambers put on a nifty move at the snap, and Hall was immediately at a disadvantage. Chambers headed inside, faked outside quickly, and he already had Hall beat, one yard off the line of scrimmage. Hall grabbed and released Chambers' right shoulder pad, then got physical enough to delay what would have been a touchdown. Only the last bit of contact was after five yards, but Hall was so badly beaten, it was an obvious call to make.

First play of the fourth quarter, third-and-5 from the Oakland 19, and the Chargers went shotgun, single-back with a shallow receiver stack on the right side. Hall played off again, and Jackson headed to the sideline as Chambers headed upfield. Hall played back at the snap, and because Branch had to take Chambers up top, Hall had Jackson all alone. This screamed "lack of awareness" to me. I understand that a secondary will play back to avoid a touchdown, but Hall conceded the first down from the word "go." Jackson caught the ball three yards past the first down marker, and Hall was five yards behind him. At the snap, Hall was two yards out from the first down, and he never even challenged Jackson because he was making a read inside, following Rivers' head. He had to know that he wasn't going to have safety help. Again, given Asomugha's ability to read plays using who knows what (Receivers' eyes? Peripheral vision? Spidey Sense?), the difference is even more graphic.

I wrote the Atlanta chapter for PFP 2008, and I've seen enough of Hall to know that I probably wouldn't be impressed with what I saw in this game. If anything, he's regressed in Oakland. Maybe it's the weight of knowing that he's the other option to the league's best, and the specter of a huge contract hanging over his head, but he's playing it safe to a ridiculous degree when he isn't racking up personal fouls and biting on everything in sight.

In last year's book, we had to lower the baseline for cornerback targets just to include Asomugha's name in Oakland's secondary stats. If Hall keeps playing like this, we may have to eliminate that baseline altogether.

Washington Redskins Quarterback Jason Campbell

Washington Redskins 26 at Dallas Cowboys 24

At the 2008 Scouting Combine, newly hired Redskins coach Jim Zorn discussed what he'd learned about developing quarterbacks during his time as the Seahawks' first signal-caller, and as the team's quarterbacks coach under Mike Holmgren.

"I came in with a lot. Mike entrusted me with a lot. When I came in, I decided, 'Here's a quarterback guru,' and I wanted to make sure he never had to tell me something that I wasn't doing right or I needed to change. I wanted to make sure I was open to things that he said to the quarterback that could help me understand how he was coaching," Zorn said. "There were times he'd watch the play, I'd watch the play and all of a sudden it didn't happen the way we wanted it. I'd step in and Mike would be like, 'Okay, let's see what he says.' He'd hear me say something and then we'd both go back and he wouldn't say a word. He knew I was right on. Then there'd be times when he'd step up and I would walk there to listen to what he had to say. I would say in my mind, 'That's exactly it.' And we'd both step back. So we were kind of on the same page there."

One of the reasons Zorn was hired by the Redskins in the first place was to take quarterback Jason Campbell to the next level. Having run through seven different offensive coordinators since his days at Auburn, the first-round pick in 2005 was looking for a system that would fit his talents, and the talents of those around him. Zorn was going to implement the Holmgren brand of West Coast Offense in Washington, and Campbell was going to stand or fall on that.

Zorn was also asked about Campbell at the Combine. "(I saw) Jason here over two years ago now. When I see him on video, I remember what I saw here. I think he's got a very good release. I think when he's got to drop the ball off he drops his arm a little bit, so there are techniques to work on there. But his release is very good. I'm surprised by how tall he is with how well he moves his feet. I think that's the thing I'm going to work on the most with him, is just his mindset on moving better in the pocket. I don't want (him) to think of himself as only a drop-back passer. I want him to think of himself as a guy who can move as well."

The original idea was to have Campbell as the lead story this week, but I just happened to watch DeAngelo Hall first and ... well, there was a lot to write about there. Still, Campbell's performance against Dallas is well worth writing about, and I wanted to detail three first-half plays that really illustrated his growth and development in this offense.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Redskins brought four receivers on a second-and-5 from their own 26. Dallas ran a little twist blitz inside with Zach Thomas picked up by Mike Sellers to the right. Campbell didn't flinch -- he saw the blitz and went to the hot route left, which was Antwaan Randle El on a quick outside slant. Randle El did the rest, getting past five Dallas defenders (starting with cornerback Terence Newman, who is going to want to forget this game as soon as possible) for a 17-yard gain. Campbell made a great, well-timed throw across his body to the sideline. It may not look like much, but these kinds of passes to deflect pressure and pick up yards after catch get defenses thinking twice about blitzing. A prototypical West Coast Offense play, and Campbell went back to the well with those short passes to the left on this drive.

After DeMarcus Ware got busted for defensive offside on third-and-4 from the Dallas 45 (good to know they still call that in the NFL these days), Campbell made what may have been his most impressive play of the day. First-and-10 from the Dallas 36. Ware got past left tackle Chris Samuels and was on Campbell quickly. As Ware prepared to complete his pursuit with a chop to cause a fumble, Campbell coolly moved up in the pocket, kept his form, and threw the ball just over the outstretched arm of end Greg Ellis, who was coming in from the right side. Santana Moss was a good 10 yards past any Cowboys defender after beating Newman on a deep crossing route, and took the ball in easily before going out of bounds at the Dallas 8-yard line.

In a post-game interview, Moss attributed Campbell's finesse under pressure to a drill that Zorn likes to do with his quarterbacks -- Zorn will throw bags or pads at the quarterback as he's setting to throw, getting him used to evading objects coming at him quickly. As Moss pointed out, that's paying dividends on the field. Campbell threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Randle El three plays later, but it was this play that made the difference.

On the next drive, the Redskins had first-and-10 from their own 39. Campbell sold a great play action to Ladell Betts as the deep back out of an offset-I. Newman is going to get blamed for another deep burn on this play, but Campbell's fake made this happen. Defensive back Courtney Brown started to cheat up to the line, but he wasn't blitzing -- just reading. The fake to Betts froze him, and he had to stay put as Campbell moved up in the pocket again to avoid pressure. Newman had no safety help after he bit on the comeback, and no hope when Moss beat him with a pretty double move outside (Fig. 1). Moss was so far past Newman that Moss could slow down and turn around for the high, slow throw before Newman brought him down. This was a tremendous example of a quarterback and receiver working together to fake one entire half of a secondary out of its collective shoes.

Fig, 1: Moss' Double Move

The biggest difference I've seen in Campbell between the preseason and now is the timing of his release. The hitch that got him in trouble with quick passes before is gone, and his ability to play within the timing of every route and every play has done wonders for his confidence. He is now able to use his mobility to his own advantage; to keep plays alive instead of extending himself into potentially disastrous situations. In addition, Campbell's now able to consistently read past the first receiver, even when he's under pressure.

Jim Zorn's belief that he had the personnel to run his preferred offense has proven to be true, and that's because he's got the quarterback to make it work.

Tennessee Titans Defensive Linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth

Minnesota Vikings 17 at Tennessee Titans 30

The right side of the Tennessee defensive line is manned by tackle Albert Haynesworth and end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and that's as tough a twosome as you'll find in the NFL. They were difference-makers at the end of the Titans' 30-17 win over the Vikings.

Haynesworth was a big ball of nastiness from Minnesota's first offensive play. After an encroachment foul gave the Vikings first-and-5 on their own 26, Haynesworth shot between center Matt Birk and left guard Steve Hutchinson with linebacker speed to take Adrian Peterson down for no gain. Vanden Bosch has long been known as one of the game's most intense pass rushers, and he had a big play when he got his helmet on Peterson's hand as he was carrying the ball, causing a fumble with 5:34 left in the first half.

We saw just how dangerous Haynesworth is, and how much his opponents respect his formidable skills, on Minnesota's final two drives of the day. With 3:55 left in the game and the Vikings at their own 10, right defensive tackle Tony Brown shot through and gave Gus Frerotte a huge hit just as he released the ball. This led to a Nick Harper interception, and Frerotte was out of the game. I wondered how Brown got to Frerotte so easily until I replayed the action and discovered that the Vikings were triple-teaming Haynesworth with Hutchinson, Birk, and right guard Anthony Herrera.

If you wanted to make a compelling argument that you are the best defensive tackle in the game, you could start with this line: "I was triple-teamed by Steve Hutchinson and two other guys." Try and find someone else who can say that about themselves. Harper returned the interception to the Minnesota 6, and rookie sensation Chris Johnson scored on the next play. Now, the Vikings had to try and erase a 13-point deficit with 3:32 left in the game, and Tarvaris Jackson facing the Tennessee defense. Not the most attractive of options.

Jackson started his first drive from the Minnesota 21-yard line with a 9-yard pass to Bobby Wade. Wade fumbled the ball right into the hands of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. That bit of luck was the last the Vikings were to have on this day -- they were about to get a two-parter from Tennessee's defensive stars. On second-and 1 from the 30, Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth ran a twist, which took Vanden Bosch inside to be engaged by Hutchinson and Birk. Haynesworth headed outside, bounced off left tackle Artis Hicks, and closed in on Jackson for the sack with that frightening speed.

The next play, with the Vikings facing third-and-7 from their own 24, was the final blow. Vanden Bosch beat Hicks on an inside move and shared a sack with Brown. The Vikings punted. Game over.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of these plays is that they came so late in the game. Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch are incredibly strong players, but the Titans' coaching staff also does a good job of subbing them out enough to keep their energy up until the end. In this case, that force proved fatal to the Vikings.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 01 Oct 2008

25 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2008, 11:38am by dryheat

Comments

1
by RickD :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:12pm

Regarding Campbell's development, do you think it's too early to call Romo the weakest QB in the NFC East? After all, Campbell clearly had the superior game on Sunday. And McNabb and Eli have both have Super Bowl appearances...

Heh heh.

19
by dmb :: Thu, 10/02/2008 - 8:22am

I would say that yes, it's absolutely too early to make such a pronouncement. Campbell has certainly looked very impressive as of late, but keep in mind that lots of quarterbacks have put together impressive 3-game stretches.

And please, please, please don't say that one quarterback is better than another just because one has been to a Super Bowl. Romo has played better than Eli on a pretty regular basis. But if you're going to apply the "player x is better because he's taken his team further in the playoffs" logic, then at least do it consistently: by that measure, Romo is still better than Campbell. :)

ETA: It would be cool if the formatting could be changed so that links are underlined, too; there are actually three above.

2
by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:16pm

What I like about the combination is the ability to be fast and physical at the same time.

There seems to be a noun missing.

3
by BadgerDave :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:32pm

These Cover 3's are awesome, keep up the great work!

4
by peyton manning (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:39pm

boy am I glad we don't play the titans until week 8. i might be sitting next to Tom Brady right now if we had played them with the rookies on o-line and without Jeff. maybe by then we can get this offense to actually earn its salary . . .

Peyton Manning $18,700,000
Marvin Harrison $12,000,000
Reggie Wayne $6,660,000
Ryan Diem $6,300,000
Jeff Saturday $5,184,669
Dallas Clark $2,483,333

5
by Anonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:49pm

re 1: i think romo has the lowest ceiling because he clearly has the weakest arm of the 4 nfc east quarterbacks. if you say the game on sunday romo can't gun the ball in tight man to man without it losing accuracy so he tried to float a lot of balls to owens which got broken up

25
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 11:38am

I don't know about the lowest ceiling......he has the weakest arm, sure. But he still reads a defense much better than Campbell or Manning, although I think he's hamstrung slightly by Owens's petulence. But Montana's arm was never any better than average, and while Brady's is above average, it isn't among the elite. If all other things are equal, than you'd want the guy with the cannon. But that's never going to be the case.

6
by dbt :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 1:55pm

The thing about Hall's defense on Chris Chambers' bobbled catch at midfield isn't that he wasn't in position on the initial bobble, but that once the ball was tipped in the air he actually turned around and tried for an impossible interception instead of simply tackling Chambers and ensuring he couldn't make a play on the ball.

Any first year corner in the NFL should know that once the ball is tipped up you paste your guy.

7
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 2:07pm

Good piece as usual, Doug. On your last point-in their regular season loss to the Chargers, when they blew a 4th quarter lead at home, Haynesworth and especially Vanden Bosch were getting great pressure on Rivers for the first 3 quarters, then got hardly any pressure at all when the Chargers came back. I haven't tracked player usage numbers (please, NFL, give us this data, we know you collect it), but I wonder if they've altered their philosophy somewhat in terms of subbing since then.

8
by BucNasty :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 2:27pm

Zorn will throw bags or pads at the quarterback as he's setting to throw, getting him used to evading objects coming at him quickly.

They showed a clip of that during the HoF Game. It wasn't really about evading, but maintaining concentration down the field despite distractions. Campbell looked like he was fighting off laughter as he's dropping back, getting smacked with bean bags. I'm glad the Redskins are doing well, because Zorn won me over with that clip alone.

10
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 3:09pm

ESPN ran a featurette a few seasons ago about Zorn's unconventional methods while with the Seahawks. He implemented that drill as well as the slip n' slide drill while with Seattle. I hope they continue to do well.

18
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 10:57pm

I have never seen Campbell laughing, or showing any emotion for that matter. He always looks so serious and focused.

[/Redskins homerism]

9
by Alex51 :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 3:02pm

I'm surprised Chris hasn't commented on Campbell yet in this thread. I'm awaiting his inevitable description of Campbell's 'slow release' and other terrible flaws.

12
by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 3:49pm

I personally claim the credit (or blame) for pointing out Campbell's inability to get the ball out quickly - at least I hadn't seen anyone else point it out before I did on these boards. I am not convinced the problem has completely disapeared either, just that Zorn is doing a better job of hiding it, and I have been watching Campbell pretty closely (whether you think little me watching closely makes any difference is another question).

At the moment Campbell is coming out of the locker room at the start of games on fire, completing a high percentage of his first few throws. These plays will be during the scripted portion of the Skins playbook and consequently will have been practised extensively during the week leading up to the game, and the coaches will have had the chance to study the opponent's defensive scheme and isolate the reads for the QB. To Campbell's (and Zorn's) credit he does look sharp during these periods. Although in the first week when tape would have been of less use Campbell struggled early (and late). Following the scripted period Campbell does still seem to have some of his old problems. There was one play during last week's game where he took so long to go to his third progression that he just had to hurl the ball in the general vicinity of his receiver. The target was entirely uncovered and a timely pass would have resulted in a big play, but the manner of delivery of the ball resulted in a short gain. The colour commentator promptly waxed lyrical about how well he had gone through his reads, completely missing the fact that if he was getting through his reads at the speed you would expect from a veteran NFL QB running a West Coast offense the ball would have been on the way to the targeted player just after the QB reached the end of his drop, not four or five seconds later. The throw down the sideline to a wide open receiver that Doug mentioned in the article is another example of Campbell taking too long to get rid of the ball. Yes he did find the player totally uncovered, but he took forever to do it and then threw the ball so near the sideline that the player immediately went out of bounds following the catch. Yes it was a big gain, but the coverage was totally blown, it should have been a huge gain and probably a touchdown.

I have read that Zorn has simplified the playbook for Campbell, and this does seem prudent. I would caution however that (from a purely observational basis) limited playbooks for QBs tend to offer better returns at the start of the season than toward the end when defensive coordinators have more tape to work out exactly what is in the limited playbook (or what kind of reads the QB is being asked to make). If Campbell isn't able to assimilate more of the playbook as the season progresses and he (in theory) becomes more comfortable in the offense then the Redskins early progress may get stymied.

In Campbell's defense he has had to learn an inordinate number of offensive schemes in consecutive years (isn't seven in seven?), which can hardly help a young player develop his skill at reading defenses. I do think Zorn is doing a good job with Campbell, but he still has a long way to go. Zorn clearly thinks that his QB needed work on something or he wouldn't have created the bag drill to try to teach him to get rid of the ball sooner. Zorn seems to be on the right track, but I will only be a beleiver when Campbell is consitently breaking down defenses quickly and getting the ball out faster when not relying on scripted plays and a limited playbook.

and hoopla! my two cents

14
by BucNasty :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:25pm

http://uncutvideo.aol.com/videos/0d80de475d3311544e37e2660c046199

Jim Zorn's pad video. Apparently he has several variations. And I just wanted to comment that I don't think he came up with them as a direct result of anything he saw in Campbell or Brennan. These are just drills he came up with that he thinks would help any quarterback that also serve to keep practice interesting.

16
by David C (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 8:54pm

That color commentator was Troy Aikman; he knows a little bit more about how a QB reads defenses than you do. Unless it's a long 7-step drop, about half that time dropping back is just spent waiting for the corner and receiver to get off the line, and the other half is spent reading the coverage of their first receiver. They then have to go to read number 2, which takes another second. If their third read is on the complete other side of the field, the quarterback is going to take a while to spot them. They don't have that bird's eye view like you do, so big gaps in coverage aren't as obvious. Otherwise, nobody would ever be able to run a zone. Campbell had a spectacular game against the Cowboys and I think you're being overly critical.

22
by Jimmy :: Thu, 10/02/2008 - 1:05pm

When I first heard Aikman was going to the booth I was annoyed as I thought he was a characterless drone who wasn't going to be very interesting to listen to. Then I watched some games he was covering and was seriously impressed with the insight and clarity he demonstrated, but the longer he stays in the booth the less impressive he is. It is almost as though the producers voice in his ear is constantly telling him to dumb everything down and 'use more cliches, everyone likes cliches'. You used to get brief commentary from Buck and then really good analysis from Aikman, now you just get loads of Buck waffling on and Aikman justs agrees with him.

Steve McMichael wrote in his book that when the Bears defense analysed tape of Joe Montana they were able to watch him go through five reads before he reached the back of his three step drop. Five reads, three steps and Montana got to the base of his drop faster than just about any QB in NFL history. If you have gone through your five reads correctly you know exactly where the ball has to go. Now it is unfair to compare any QB to Montana, but Campbell is nowhere near that level of efficiency.

Also QBs in the NFL don't just drop back and look for their WRs the first thing they are supposed to do is look for the keys to what the defense is doing. In the Walsh West Coast (which Zorn's passing game is based upon) each play has its own specific footwork and keys, Campbell just doesn't get through these at a rate most NFL QBs do. I wrote in my comment that Campbell's constant exposure to new offensive schemes may have played a role in retarding his development, it may be the case that he will improve if Zorn is given a few years to coach him in one offense.

11
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 3:36pm

In last year's book, we had to lower the baseline for cornerback targets just to include Asomugha's name in Oakland's secondary stats. If Hall keeps playing like this, we may have to eliminate that baseline altogether.

Shouldn't the baseline be based on the number of times they dropped into coverage, not the number of times they were targeted? Like in baseball, where the baseline for batting average is based on number of plate appearances, not at bats (so as not to penalize players who are frequently walked).

13
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:24pm

Ideally, probably yes, but that's not information we have. The Target numbers and % data in PFP are based on what did happen, but, as I noted above, we don't even know (and it's not necessarily collectible from the TV broadcast) how many plays a particular player plays, and figuring out how many plays a game a particular defender is in coverage is even harder-impossible, essentially, to track from the TV broadcast.

15
by burbman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:52pm

Shouldn't the baseline be based on the number of times they dropped into coverage, not the number of times they were targeted?

Not sure how easy this stat would be to come by. I don't think the box score would include it, and without the 11 on 11 tapes, TV coverage of the off side DB's is generally nonexistant.

17
by Sean :: Wed, 10/01/2008 - 10:00pm

Top notch analysis, kudos to you Doug.

A question on Hall and his coverage "skills". Is it possible that the lack of a quality WR to go up against in practice on any of the teams he's been on since entering the league have affected his development as a CB?

20
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 10/02/2008 - 12:03pm

That was never a problem for Chris McAllister. Besides, Hall practiced opposite a broken-out Roddy White last year.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

21
by Doug Farrar :: Thu, 10/02/2008 - 12:46pm

Right. Deion Sanders in his prime could have practiced against whatever Seattle was trotting out there at receiver early in the season, and he still would have been Deion Sanders. The same could be said of Mr. Asomugha.

From what I've seen, Hall's problems can be attributed to a lack of fundamentals. It's clear from the one play I detailed in which he excelled that he has enough speed to stay with most NFL receivers. But he plays too aggressively or too passively most of the time, quarterbacks can direct him with their eyes, he doesn't seem to be very good at reading plays, and his field awareness (i.e., "Where are my fellow defenders, and what am I responsible for covering here?") has never impressed me. My "Amateur Scouting 101" take on Hall is that he's got some very raw talent, but that's about it, and I don't know if he'll ever develop it.

24
by Sean :: Fri, 10/03/2008 - 5:42am

well and truly answered then, thank you. here's hoping that new england opens the check book for Asomugha should he become a FA

23
by j'accusa rich (not verified) :: Thu, 10/02/2008 - 8:53pm

I'm a big fan of yours Mr. Farrar and I agree with your assessment of Hall, but my question is about the depth he sets up at - is this his choice? I honestly have no idea either way, but I thought that kind of thing was predicated upon the defensive play call.