One of the biggest debates among Redskins fans is who is the better starting cornerback, DeAngelo Hall or Josh Wilson. Now this focus is on coverage ability, but in fairness DeAngelo Hall has become a far better run defender, which is a nice plus for him.
While looking at basic stats Hall and Wilson seem pretty similar. Both had about the same number of passes defensed (16 for Hall, 15 for Wilson), both gave up 5 TD’s, and had similar number of INT’s (3 for Hall, 2 for Wilson). They also had a similar number of targets against (92 Wilson, 94 for Hall) and their yards per reception allowed are also really similar, 13.2 for Wilson, to 13.6 for Hall. Now that looks to be roughly the same level of CB, but that only tells part of the story.
Despite having roughly the same number of targets and yards per reception, Wilson allowed 251 yards less than Hall. How you might ask? It’s very simple, he allowed far fewer completions 46 to 63. That led to Wilson allowing just 6.6 yards per attempt, to Hall’s 9.17. That is a pretty drastic difference, and shows how important Wilson’s ability to prevent receptions is to the success of a cornerback.
Now people will make the excuse that Hall faces number 1 receivers vs Wilson who faces team’s number 2’s. While an interesting argument, it’s not as black and white as people make it out to be. For one thing, while Hall covered the top receiver the majority of the time, it wasn’t 100% of the time. Another thing is that saying that he’s going up against top tier is not an excuse. That’s Hall’s job, one that he has lobbied hard far, and one that he has failed completely to accomplish.
Hall is paid like a premium corner, but doesn’t perform up to that standard. Hall’s completion percentage allowed of 67% was 6th worst in the league among corners who were targeted at least 5o times. Wilson on the other hand finished 11th best in the league, just behind Brandon Carr and Joe Haden. Now if there was just a slight discrepency between the two (1-3%) maybe you could factor in, Hall playing against better receivers, but not a 17% gap. That big of a difference wouldn’t be justified even if Hall went against Calvin Johnson on every single snap and Wilson covered Anthony Armstrong.
Now this is not to say that Hall isn’t capable of being the better corner, as he has a great combination of size and athleticism. Hall has also shown the ability to put those skills to use in game situations. Hall allowed just 56% completion rate in 2009, and in his half a season in Washington, in 2008, Hall allowed just 50% completion rate.
The problem that has haunted Hall throughout his career, is his lack of consistency. Which is why both the Falcons and Raiders cut ties with him (yes the Falcons traded him, but they decided he wasn’t worth extending), and why his contract is untenable long term for the Skins.
As Redskins fans the best case scenario would be for Hall to play up to his ability, but until he does that (and does it consistently), Wilson is the far better corner and more important part of this defense.