Week in Review: Reinventing Leon Hall: The Shockingly Logical Move
By Shawn Maher
Nov 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) runs with the ball in the first quarter against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Against the run, it has been ages since the Bengals have had a corner like Hall. He is one of the best form tacklers on the defense, and is not afraid to square up and put all 193 pounds of his into a beautifully executed takedown. He has not really been utilized in the blitz, but with Zimmer that is more of a skill for his safeties. With Crocker and Reggie Nelson, little help is needed on that front.
But in coverage, Hall has always been lauded as a technician who is rarely out of position. Although Adam Jones was previously used as the slot cornerback, and has the speed and explosiveness for the position, Hall is a much better fit. He has the build and durability to hold up against the run and lay big hits over the middle of the field, but still has the best instincts on the team. Hall was never a ball hawk, but staying in a receiver’s hip pocket is a much better quality in the slot.
Jones has proven to be outstanding in coverage, playing the best he has so far in his NFL career during this season, and by moving him out of the slot position he has proven to be more durable. His blazing speed allows him to shadow a team’s X receiver down the sideline, while his improved health has made him a consistent weapon on punt returns.
Against Antonio Brown and Victor Cruz, Hall has faced two of the best at taking advantage of slot cornerback mismatches and played well. Like Finnegan, he will line up on the outside against two-receiver sets and bump down to the slot in the nickel defense, with Jones taking over on the outside. This role suits him well, and has given Hall and the Bengals new life against the pass. When Kirkpatrick likely takes over for Terence Newman on the left next season, the Bengals will have a high-end cornerback group for the foreseeable future.
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