Hall reconsiders his remarks on Haslett’s blitz call

September 28, 2011

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s remarks following Monday night’s 18-16 loss in Dallas – comments that questioned the blitz called by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on a crucial third-and-21 play late in the game – continued to reverberate Wednesday around Redskins Park.

But given some distance from the game, Hall, who yielded a first-down catch to Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant on the play and later profanely criticized the strategy, said he could have handled himself better, both in executing the play and addressing it afterward.

After he watched the tape with both Haslett and Coach Mike Shanahan, Hall also said he could better understand why Haslett decided to come with an all-out blitz at that moment in what was a one-point game. The blitz, several players and coaches said, had been inordinately successful early in the season, yielding both Redskins’ turnovers in the Dallas game.

“In the heat of the battle, he’s going to make the call he feels like is best for that situation,” Hall said. “After sitting down talking to him, I definitely understood where he was coming from. As opposed to just sitting back letting those guys pick us apart, he wanted to get pressure. He] didn’t feel like we were getting there with four or five guys.”

Redskins’ officials put Hall at a podium in front of a large media corps Wednesday, though Hall said he wasn’t forced to address the situation; he was doing so on his own. Shanahan would not discuss the nature of his meeting with Hall, but he did say he understands the frustration that accompanies such a narrow loss.

“I’ve said some things after the game that I’d like to have back,” Shanahan said. “Usually, when you’re in the business for a while, you learn to keep your emotions inside of you, at least for 24 hours. Then you can come back and say some different things.”

However, Hall stood by his criticism of an official who flagged him for grabbing Bryant’s face mask on the same play. The 15-yard penalty, in addition to Bryant’s 30-yard reception, moved the Cowboys into field goal range.

“Still don’t think it was a face mask. Didn’t get a fine by the league, so obviously, they didn’t think it was a face mask, either. Because if it was, I would’ve gotten the fine already,” Hall said. Shanahan agreed.

Hall, a defensive captain, isn’t known for restraint, on or off the field. Last year, after Houston receiver Andre Johnson made a late touchdown catch to beat the Redskins, he criticized Haslett and said he would ignore the defensive call if he didn’t agree with it. Monday night, he said, among other things, “Sooner or later, somebody’s going to. . . figure it out, You don’t have to be a. . . rocket scientist to figure it out,” Hall said, lacing his remarks with expletives.

Wednesday, though, he said he was “overzealous” in his assessment. He also said he should have done a better job on Bryant, whose catch set up the game-winning field goal.

“For one, I probably could’ve stayed inside a little more,” Hall said. “Dez ran a pretty good route. He was backyard-routing it up. Great throw by Tony Romo. But no matter what’s called, we got to go out there and execute it.”

Hall and several of his teammates used one word to dismiss Hall’s rant: passion.

“When you catch an individual like that after he just suffered a tough loss, sometimes things come out that you wouldn’t necessarily want to come out,” said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. “In no way, shape or form does he put himself above the team, above the coaches. He carries himself as a man of integrity. We all have moments of weakness.”

Hall took heat in the week leading up to the game because he said he would go after Romo’s fractured rib. He allowed a 73-yard touchdown pass to Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald a week earlier. But he said he is comfortable with the challenge of being in high-profile positions, whether it’s defending the opponent’s top receiver or standing in the spotlight because of a controversy.

“I’m a corner,” Hall said. “That’s what we do. You get burned. You make plays. . . I got very thick skin. I can come out here every week after I give up a play and say, ‘It’s all on me.’ I don’t have any problem doing that. I’d rather take the burns than anybody else on this team, because I been through it. “

Haslett, who ostensibly made the call to send eight men on the blitz, will address the media Thursday, his first public comments since the loss. Shanahan used Wednesday to try to put Hall’s comments behind the team.

“He’s a competitor,” Shanahan said. “A lot of people speak very freely, and sometimes it’s the right thing, and sometimes they come up to you and say, ‘Hey, I apologize for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I’m a member of this team. No matter what’s called, I’m going to go out there and execute that call to the best of my ability’.”

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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