Redskins' DeAngelo Hall and Jim Haslett have heated disagreement over coverages

By Jason Reid
Thursday, October 21, 2010; 1:35 AM

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett got into a contentious exchange Tuesday over pass coverage instructions, a development Coach Mike Shanahan followed by meeting privately with Hall and singling Hall out at a team meeting Wednesday morning, according to three Redskins employees familiar with the events.

The argument centered on Hall's feeling that he was receiving mixed signals on how to play a certain pass coverage, according to two of those three employees. But Hall and Haslett have a good relationship and there should be no lingering animosity as a result, the employees said.

It is the second time this season that Hall has voiced his frustration over the team's defensive approach. Last month, Hall said he would assign himself to cover the opponent's top receiver regardless of Haslett's strategy, a remark he later withdrew.

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie declined to comment on the events. Approached by reporters in the locker room, Hall said he had to undergo treatment and did not return during the time that players were available to the media.

On Wednesday morning, Shanahan singled out Hall at a team meeting at Redskins Park, citing a need for better communication among players and coaches, the three employees said.

As the Redskins gathered to begin preparations for this week's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Shanahan mentioned Hall by name at a team meeting, according to the team employees, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal personnel matters.

Hall apparently has been playing through the pain of a back injury for weeks, though the problem was listed on the team's injury report only before the Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and this week for the Bears game. Hall participated fully in practice Wednesday, according to the report.

Apparently, Hall has received conflicting diagnoses about the source of his pain, the three team employees said. A team physician initially diagnosed the problem as something the team employees declined to reveal. But Hall sought a second opinion because of the lingering pain, and another doctor called into question the accuracy of the first diagnosis.

Shanahan told the team that players must be forthcoming about physical limitations caused by injuries and trust that the players behind them on the depth chart are capable of performing well as replacements.

Shanahan stressed he would do everything he could to protect veteran players during the week, including limiting their practice workload to just a few plays if need be, the employees said. But players, Shanahan said, are responsible for providing the medical and training staff with the information the coach needs to help them.

Hall and Haslett had words Tuesday after reviewing film of Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

After the game, Hall acknowledged that he blew the coverage on a 57-yard Colts touchdown pass in the first quarter. That play, however, was not what prompted the brief argument between coach and player, said two of the three employees.

Rather, there was some confusion about Haslett's instructions for the cornerbacks to play a certain coverage that would be best in certain situations. Defensive backs coach Bob Slowik explained the coverage to Hall and cornerback Carlos Rogers one way, but Haslett, the two employees said, contradicted Slowik's explanation, saying he wanted Hall to play deeper in the coverage. The result was that Hall expressed his frustration about the conflicting information before leaving the complex.

Haslett and Hall have had a good working relationship since the new regime assumed control of the football operation under Shanahan in January. Both are passionate about football and winning, many players said.

But the outburst is not Hall's first this year. Frustrated by late defensive breakdowns during the Redskins' Week 2 overtime loss to the Houston Texans, Hall said he planned to shadow each opponent's top receiver regardless of which side of the field the receiver was on. He said at the time that Haslett's opinion on the subject was not of great importance to him.

"It don't matter what he say," Hall said on Sept. 20. "This my team. This my defense. So I'm [going to] follow the receivers around. That's what I'm [going to do]. If we got to do that to win games, that's what we do."

Later in the day, however, Hall said his remarks had come out harsher than he intended and that he did not mean to criticize Haslett. Haslett later said he admired Hall's aggressiveness and desire to improve the defense.

Hall is among the veteran leaders of a Redskins defense that has struggled during the first season of a transition from a 4-3 base front to a 3-4 scheme. Washington ranks last in the league, giving up an average of 420 yards overall. The Redskins also are 31st out of 32 teams in defense against the pass (298.2 yards).

Shanahan did not criticize Hall for his performance in last week's loss to the Colts, or directly reference Tuesday's Hall-Haslett exchange. But some in the room said they believe the head coach's remarks were prompted by Hall's argument with Haslett.

Hall has played a significant role in the team's 3-3 start. He scored the Redskins' only touchdown in the season-opening 13-7 victory over the Cowboys, stripping the ball from Dallas running back Tashard Choice and returning it 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half.

In the Week 4 game against the Eagles, Hall was credited with five tackles, including four unassisted. He intercepted a pass and defensed another in the 17-12 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. Late in the first quarter, Hall and Moore combined on a hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Michael Vick out of the game. Vick suffered rib cartilage damage and has not played since.

The Redskins signed Hall in November 2008 and resigned him in March 2009. They rewarded him with a six-year deal that included $23 million in guaranteed money.

The Redskins renegotiated Hall's contract in March, moving up his $15 million signing bonus to this season for accounting purposes. Hall has a $3 million base salary this season and received a $500,000 workout bonus.

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