The Washington Post

DeAngelo Hall: Jim Haslett was ‘handcuffed’ in his play-calling

(Evan Vucci/AP)

My serious-reporting buddies made it pretty clear that Jim Haslett believes he was held back by Mike Shanahan’s meddling in recent seasons. From their what-went-wrong explainer:

Haslett, the defensive coordinator and a former NFL head coach, also had part of his play-calling duties on the defense usurped by Shanahan, according to two coaches and a veteran player.

One of Shanahan’s first calls came in September 2011, during a game at Dallas. With the Cowboys on their own 30 with 2 minutes 20 seconds to play, Shanahan called an all-out blitz — “Cover-0,” as it is known — and it backfired, resulting in Dallas quarterback Tony Romo finding wide receiver Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain. Dallas eventually kicked a field goal for an 18-16 victory, and Haslett was left to shoulder the blame.

Now, months later, DeAngelo Hall is willing to put his name to that same sort of claim.

“Defensively man, I just feel like we played so bad last year, we’ve got some unfinished business to definitely take care of,” Hall told ESPN 980’s “Inside the Locker Room” on Wednesday. “I’m excited after talking to Haslett about the possibility of him being able to just run his defense without anybody in his ear telling him what to call or what not to call. So I’m really excited to see Haz unleash his full arsenal of play calls.”

That’s interesting. Brian Mitchell then mentioned that he thinks Haslett could be better without interference.

“I mean, he’s been in this league for so long for a reason,” Hall said. “It’s not because he’s the best-looking guy; it’s because he can call plays and have a great defense. No disrespect to Mike Shanahan, he’s a great coach, but he liked to micromanage things. He kind of liked his hands on everything. Jay [Gruden’s] kind of like look, I’m gonna let Haz kind of do his thing. Obviously if I see something that I feel like as an offense we can stop or we can’t stop, I’ll definitely let him know, give him a heads-up on some things to help us get better as team. But Haz is going to get to do what he does.

“And like I told Haz years ago, when I was kind of getting handcuffed as a player, I told him I understand you’re getting handcuffed as a coach,” Hall continued. “Imagine how I feel as a player being told that I have to do something a certain way, because I’ve always stressed to people that playing corner, it’s chess. It’s not let me stand right here and you catch this ball. I’m sorry, it’s not checkers, it’s chess, where you have to strategically play that chess match with your opponent. I have to play off, I have to fake like I’m going jam, I have to kind of mix and match with some of these top notch receivers to kind of keep them off balance.

“So Haz definitely understood where I was coming from as a player,” Hall concluded. “And I felt him, because he definitely as a coach needs to be able to kind of play chess with the other coordinator too.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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Dan Steinberg · February 20, 2014