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Remember when critics tried to call Josh Norman a system corner? They're wrong

Remember when critics tried to call Josh Norman a system corner? They're wrong

The boxscore simply reads: "(8:34) T.Rawls right end to SEA 41 for no gain (J.Norman)."

Remove the NFL jargon, and the play looked like this: On 3rd down midway through the fourth quarter, Seattle running back Thomas Rawls gets the hand off and is headed for the right edge. He has plenty of space, and only needs one yard for a crucial first down. The only man to beat is Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. 

Most cornerbacks don't do well in this situation, but Norman is not most cornerbacks. He brought down Rawls, forcefully, and his tackle meant another Seahawks punt. 

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"His tackle on third-down-and-one, when he tackled the guy by the arm, not that many corners are going to do that," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said, "step up there and make that big of a tackle in that type of situation."

Gruden nailed his explanation of the tackle, and it showed the type of player Norman has become for the Redskins. Signed away from the Carolina Panthers in 2016 for his coverage and ballhawking skills, the 29-year-old former 5th round pick has become an overall top defensive player. 

"Josh is a premier corner in the league, in my opinion. He’s the best. You know, not from his cover standpoint, not just from his coverage, but from his tackling," the coach said. 

In 21 starts with the Redskins, Norman has three interceptions. It's a fine total, but not indicative of his impact on games. Perhaps no player in the NFL is better at punching out the football for fumbles than Norman, and off the field, the cornerback has brought an attitude and toughness to the Redskins defense. 

"As an all-around corner, coverage, tackling, leadership, effort, all that stuff, I think he’s up there with the best. It’s great to have him back on the field," Gruden said. "The energy he brings, the passion he brings for the game is contagious."

That passion for football shows.

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Reunited with high school teammate D.J. Swearinger, the Redskins defense is playing at a higher level in 2017 than they did in 2016. The talent has been upgraded, as well as the coaching, but it also seems like Norman has settled into life in Washington. Last season, Norman was still dealing with his surprising release from the Carolina Panthers and an ongoing public dispute with Odell Beckham. 

This year, Norman is established with the Redskins, and even his disputes have grown from angry to funny. Where the tone of Beckham vs Norman in 2016 had real animosity, now Norman is making funny commercials with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The rivalry is still quite real, but the tone has shifted. 

Pro Football Focus ranks Norman as the 16th best cornerback in football through eight games. That's not gospel, but it is an informed metric. 

What metrics can't show, however, is the attitude Norman brings to the Washington defense. The "don't take no crap from anybody" mentality (see full video above).

When the Redskins signed Norman, some critics warned he was just a system corner. A player made to look better by a swarming Panthers defense in a scheme that suited his skills. 

Only a fool would make that case now. Norman has proven that. And more. 

"He’s a Pro Bowl-level corner," Gruden said. "These guys are hard to replace."

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Senior Bowl Preview: All eyes on the quarterbacks as Redskins must consider options

Senior Bowl Preview: All eyes on the quarterbacks as Redskins must consider options

MOBILE — Kirk Cousins remains the best option to be the Redskins quarterback of the future, but that future isn't very secure. For the past two seasons, Washington has been unable to get a long-term deal done with Cousins and optimism is low heading into the 2018 negotiating period. 

At this point, after consecutive franchise tags, it might be time for the Redskins to look at options beyond Cousins. Colt McCoy is under contract for 2018, and head coach Jay Gruden has repeatedly voiced confidence in the famed Texas product. 

Big picture, however, the Redskins need to find their QB for 2018, and beyond. Perhaps that will be Cousins, but it's time for serious due diligence. 

That means the Washington contingent heading to Mobile, Alabama, this week for the Senior Bowl needs to be watching the quarterbacks. And there's a lot to watch. 

Senior Bowl rosters are loaded with future NFL talent at all different positions. NBC Sports will have much more on that later in the week, but to kick things off, start with the passers. 

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  • 1) Baker Mayfield - Nobody will have a brighter light on them in Mobile than Mayfield. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner made big splashes on the field for Oklahoma, posting video game numbers. He threw for more than 4,600 yards in 14 games to go with 43 touchdowns against only six interceptions. He completed a crazy 70 percent of his throws, which is very high for a college passer. There was some off-field immaturity, and a February 2017 arrest, but those issues aren't expected to cause him to slide in the draft. A number of draft experts predict Washington drafting Mayfield with the 13th overall pick, but there will be plenty of teams ahead of the Redskins that need a passer. Mobile will give the Redskins brass a chance to meet and learn who Mayfield is off the field, and that will be vitally important, along with figuring out if there are reasons to be concerned about his height on the pro football level. 
  • 2)  Josh Allen - Big arm and traditional pocket passer, Allen will ace the eyeball test from talent evaluators. His 2017 numbers from Wyoming will not, however, and he will need a strong showing at pre-draft workouts. Mel Kiper suggested Allen could go as high as No. 1 overall, and at 6-foot-5, 230 lbs., there is clearly not a lack of physical talent. In his last two seasons at Wyoming, Allen threw for more than 5,000 yards along with 44 TDs against 21 INTs. Don't try too hard to compare Mayfield and Allen's stats, as comparing the talent and situations at Oklahoma and Wyoming are wildy different. Many NFL scouts love Allen, but some worry about his accuracy. In college, he completed just 56 percent of his passes. He may be a boom or bust type pick, but after the success of Carson Wentz coming out of North Dakota State, teams will be more willing to roll the dice on the Wyoming Cowboy in Allen. 
  • 3) Mason Rudolph - Upstaged by Mayfield's success at Oklahoma, Rudolph put together a terrific season of his own at Oklahoma State. A prolific passer for three seasons in Stillwater, as a senior, Rudolph tossed 37 TDs against nine interceptions along with nearly 5,000 passing yards. At 6-foot-5, Rudolph faces no questions about NFL size, and he certainly has a strong enough arm to play in the pros. Rudolph won't be practicing at the Senior Bowl but is expected to interview with NFL teams. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has said before the interviews are arguably the most important part of the pre-draft process, and this could be a big meeting. Rudolph isn't expected to go quite as high as Allen or Mayfield, and could even be drafted in the back half of the first round. 

There will be other quarterbacks playing in Mobile, including Washington State's Luke Falk, Nebraska's Tanner Lee, Virginia's Kurt Benkert, Troy's Brandon Silvers, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Kyle Lauletta of the University of Richmond. There is some intrigue surrounding Lauletta and White, especially as small school QBs continue to thrive in the NFL and both passers have NFL size and play best from the pocket. Not for nothing, Bruce Allen played football at Richmond too. 

It's a little weird that both Allen and Mayfield are on the same team, splitting reps in practice and snaps in the game. Then again Allen might not even play, so it could be irrelevant. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the week for updates from the Senior Bowl. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Let's take a look at how Eagles fans celebrated Sunday's NFC Championship win

eaglesfans.jpg
AP Images

Let's take a look at how Eagles fans celebrated Sunday's NFC Championship win

Eagles fans are known for a lot of things, most tend to not be very positive.

Sunday, the internet made sure to help us all keep track of what was going on in Philly, before, during, and after the Eagles and Vikings played for the NFC Championship.

Let's take a look at how things progressed in the City of Brotherly Love.

In what has become the iconic symbol of Sunday's "celebrations", this poor fellow, according to TMZ, Andrew Tornetta, refused to comply with orders to disperse by police in the parking lot before the game.

Instead, according to the report, Tornetta punched a police horse twice in the right shoulder and then hit the human officer in the face, which is always a terrible decision.

Oh, and it's the second time in two weeks a police horse took a fist from a human in Philly. 

Fans also welcomed anyone wearing Vikings colors with class and, well, brotherly love.

Also before the game, the city decided to be proactive, and keep fans from climbing light poles if the Eagles won.

Of course, we knew what wouldn't stop them.

Sure enough, some fans were up to the Crisco Pole Challenge.

Others though, didn't need grease to have issues with a pole.

Some decided to create a new dance, which we're sure will catch on any day now.

There was also the classic dance-on-a-car move.

Oh, and let's not forget them letting the Vikings know they played a great game. 

Forget the Patriots and Eagles playing eachother in the Super Bowl.

The real matchup, is Patriots fans and Eagles fans.

May the best fanbase win.