Although this is not the first time that I have talked about Leon Hall recently, during the Eagles win both he and Chris Crocker both showed the best and the worst of how a defensive back uses his eyes in coverage.
In Hall’s case, he used his eyes to help himself to an interception in a situation that causes many cornerbacks to pick up a pass interference call. Against Jeremy Maclin on the outside, Hall was playing off man coverage. Crocker rolls towards the middle of the field, and Hall has the outside. Maclin releases to the outside and runs a vertical route.
When playing off coverage, the defensive back should give about seven to nine yards of cushion in order to be able to break on a quick, three-step drop throw, but enough cushion that the receiver does not eat it up right away. That opens up the cornerback’s hips too early to commit to the downfield throw, then the receiver can break off the route.
Hall, the masterful technician that he is, lines up eight yards off Maclin. That allows him to keep strong leverage at the top of the stem.
Hall sinks back and, when Maclin gets past the top of the stem at ten yards, where a receiver would make the break if he were running a breaking route, Hall opens his hips to run downfield, still on top of Maclin with no safety over the top.