The NFL is a pressure-packed environment with players fighting every day to keep their jobs and to win games. But some are under the gun more than others. Between now and the start of training camp well take a look at the players who are in the spotlight and under the most pressure to perform. Earlier we looked at Brian Orakpo and today its DeAngelo Hall.DeAngelo Hall has had many memorable moments with the Redskins. In the 2010 season opener he forced and then scooped up a fumble and ran it into the end zone for the Redskins only touchdown in a win over Dallas. Later that year he picked off four Jay Cutler passes, returning one of them for a TD that was the winning margin in that game.The memories are not always so pleasant. The two enduring images of Hall last year are of him grabbing Dez Bryants facemask after giving up a big fourth-down completion that set up the game-winning field goal for Dallas and of him watching while the Patriots Rob Gronkowski broke away from two tacklers and rumbled down the sideline.Hall is a playmaker and he makes plays that help both teams. He also is the Redskins No. 1 cornerback and he is making 6 million this year. His salary cap number would be higher but the Redskins paid him a big chunk of money in 2010. That was part of the reason they were hit with the 36 million salary cap penalty this year and next.The Redskins are looking at moving him to slot corner. In the past, that would be considered a step down from playing on the outside, as teams would go with three wide receivers only on passing down. But as teams go the three- and four-receiver sets in just about any down and distance, the nickel position has become a starting job. In some ways, it is more challenging than playing on the outside.There's a lot more room out there is the slot, Hall said during minicamp last month. The receiver's got two ways to go, you've got to cover the whole field as opposed to playing corner where you can go, that's the sideline.You can see your friend over there, the sideline, you've got help sometimes. It's definitely a lot easier as opposed to playing nickel but we've got a lot of things with the nickel where you've got a chance to go our and have some fun, too.Things will be a lot more fun if he can pick off some more passes. He had the one great game against the Bears but playing nearly every snap in the other 31 games in the past two years he has a total of five interceptions. Thats OK if youre a lockdown corner who has opposing quarterbacks afraid to throw in your direction Its not nearly enough if your game is based on getting takeaways.This could be a make or break year for Hall. His salary ticks up to 7.5 million next year and it goes to 9 million in 2014. If his interception totals dont climb with his salary the Redskins could go looking for other options.
The Redskins wasted a big opportunity to jump to the front of the NFC East standings with an ugly loss to the Colts. The good news, however, is that nobody in the division got to 2-0 either, and the standings look quite jumbled through two weeks.
Here's the weekly update:
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
That loud noise you heard were jaws dropping around the NFL when the Buccaneers and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick posted 27 points on the Eagles. Tampa's hot start under Fitzpatrick is a story for a different day, but the vaunted Philadelphia defense looked quite beatable on their recent trip to Florida.
That loss will soon be forgotten though as QB Carson Wentz is set to return this weekend for the Eagles. Before he went down with a knee injury late last season, Wentz was an MVP candidate and a touchdown machine. He returns to a banged up Philly squad, particularly at wide receiver. The Eagles will need Wentz magic right away, and their defense to get back to normal, to again look like defending Super Bowl Champs.
Up next: 9/23 vs Colts
Washington Redskins (1-1)
After a dominant Week 1 win in Arizona, the Redskins played a terrible game in their home opener, losing to Indianapolis 21-9. Almost everything that worked so well in Week 1 - the run game and stopping the run - didn't work in Week 2.
Jay Gruden, Alex Smith and the defensive line all need to be better to have a chance in Week 3 against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Two disturbing trends for Washington: lack of production at WR and lack of pressure on opposing QBs. Ryan Kerrigan needs to get going for Washington, quick.
Up next: 9/23 vs Packers
Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
The Cowboys offense looked bad Week 1 against the Panthers, and only looked slightly better Week 2 against the Giants. The good news is the Cowboys defensive front looks strong. They sacked Eli Manning six times last week and dominated rookie RB Saquon Barkley.
At some point the Cowboys will need to score, and that doesn't look easy. QB Dak Prescott is averaging less than 150 yards per game, good for 30th in the NFL. Dallas will continue to lean on its run game, but if the passing doesn't improve even Ezekiel Elliott won't find much room against defenses stacked to stop him.
Up next: 9/23 @ Seattle
New York Giants (0-2)
Things look ugly in New York. In two games, the Giants have scored just 29 points and Eli Manning has been sacked eight times. Rookie RB Saquon Barkley looks like a big time talent, but outside of one big run in Week 1, hasn't been able to consistently move the ball.
The discussion in New York is heating up if the Giants messed up by drafting Barkley with the second overall pick when so many strong QB prospects were available. It doesn't help that the New York Jets took Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, and he looks like the real deal. After all, Manning is 37.
Up next: 9/23 @ Houston
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
A home loss to a team that was 4-12 a year ago, 0-1 this year, has a rookie head coach, and is clearly in rebuilding mode is more than just a mark in the “L” column. In the case of the Redskins’ loss to the Colts on Sunday, they also lost an opportunity.
The Eagles lost Sunday, and the Redskins’ loss cost them a chance to have sole possession of first place in the NFC East. That doesn’t mean much two games into the season, but it would have been a psychological boost for the team and its fans. Instead at 1-1, they are in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Cowboys.
What’s worse for the Redskins, however, is what is ahead.
They will be decided underdogs at home to a Packers team with an apparently healthy Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. After their ridiculously early bye, they travel to New Orleans, the scene of their worst loss of 2017, a game where they blew a 15-point lead late in the game and lost in overtime. The Saints have been struggling but they will be solid favorites. Then the Panthers come to town and the Redskins have not beaten them since Cam Newton become their quarterback (0-4).
If coming events follow form, the Redskins will go into their Week 7 game against the Cowboys at 1-4. If they had won Sunday that could have been a much more palatable 2-3.
But just like it was futile to predict that the Redskins would steamroll the Colts, tread carefully if you want to buy a parlay ticket on Washington going 0-3 between now and the end of Week 6. They have looked good and they have looked bad. It would not surprise me in the least if they came out for the Packers game playing at a very high level.
The Redskins are not the only inconsistent NFL team. The Ravens and Jets posted impressive Week 1 wins and lost in Week 2. It works both ways. The Falcons couldn’t get anything done in the red zone in their opening loss to the Eagles. Yesterday they were 4-4 there and beat the Panthers.
Still, the egg they laid at home in concerning. Following an impressive win with a deflating loss isn’t an occasional thing with this team, it’s a pattern.
Since 2015, the team has had two four-game winning streaks, one to close out the 2015 season and one in Weeks 3-6 the following year. Other than those, they have not had a winning streak of longer than two games and they have had just three of those.
Simple math will tell you that a team will have a tough time making the playoffs if it can’t string together an extended winning streak or at least multiple two-game streaks in a season.
So, while losing to the Colts isn’t the end of the season for the Redskins, it is an indication that they still are having problems stringing wins together. If they are going to contend for the playoffs, something that needs to happen if they are going to fill FedEx Field and if Jay Gruden is to stay employed, they will need to do better than win one, lose one.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- New Additions: 'Skins add receivers Perriman and Floyd
- Need to Know: Last look at Redskins-Colts
- Week 2 in Photos: Best images from home opener
- Redskins-Colts: Five plays that decided outcome