He has had battles with referees and media members as well as with opposing wide receivers. He has been fined more than $65,000 by the NFL. He has been, at times, the focal point of fans’ wrath over the missteps of a Redskins secondary that once seemed practically defenseless against opponents’ quarterbacks and receivers.
But winning is a virtual cure-all in the NFL. And now, with Hall and fellow members of the team’s defensive backfield contributing to the turnaround that has the Redskins poised to reach the playoffs, the season’s turmoil seems perfectly tolerable to Hall, as does the disparagement that has come his way in often sizable amounts.
“You kind of learn to take the criticism over time,” he said in a wide-ranging interview this week in a Centreville restaurant after he finished his weekly radio show. “But you never learn to like it. . . . You’re not happy about it. But when it happens, it happens.”
Hall is tied with linebacker London Fletcher for the team lead with four interceptions, and has mixed big plays with contributions to the misadventures of the Redskins’ secondary. Washington is ranked 30th among the league’s 32 teams in pass defense. Six of the first seven quarterbacks to face the Redskins this season topped 300 passing yards; the other one, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman, threw for 299.
When the Redskins’ season appeared in ruins at 3-6 before the November bye week, the secondary was singled out as the main culprit. Newspaper columnists and fans on the Internet assailed Hall’s play.
“I feel like the secondary as a whole, we’ve been up and down,” Hall said. “We’ve given up plays. But at the same time, we’ve made plays. We’ve lost games. We’ve won games. In this league, you want to make more positive plays than negative plays you give up, is what you want to do. But I mean, it’s no secret: We’ve got to be better. We’ve blown some things.”
The secondary’s arc, though, is like the rest of the team’s: The direction is upward. In the last seven games, only one opposing passer has topped 300 yards.
“We’re not worried about anything people want to say about us, anything people think about us,” cornerback Josh Wilson said Thursday at Redskins Park. “We’re just going out here and making sure that we help our team win. If you guys and everybody in this world calls us the worst four or five guys ever to step on the football field, we’ll be happy as long as we’ve got a Super Bowl championship.”
When it comes to assessing the season that he is having personally, Hall is relatively noncommittal.
“Defensive back is a position that is kind of tricky,” he said. “Sometimes you can get beat and it might not really be you. Sometimes you can get beat and it doesn’t look like you and it is you. So as long as the coaching staff and the guys in that locker room feel I’m playing good enough, that’s all that really matters.”