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Josh Norman defends game plan for covering Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Josh Norman defends game plan for covering Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Although Steelers receiver Antonio Brown didn’t threaten to break any statistical records during his team’s win over the Redskins, he still had a solid night, catching two touchdown passes and making a few other clutch catches. He caught eight passes for 126 yards.

As the game unfolded and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger kept finding Brown every time he needed a key play many wondered why the Redskins were not defending the receiver with cornerback Josh Norman. The Redskins gave Norman a contract worth $15 million per season to help defend premiere receivers such as Brown.

But the game plan called for Norman to stay on the left side of the defense with Bashaud Breeland on the right side. It seemed like most of Brown’s big plays, including a 29-yard touchdown reception on fourth and one, came against Breeland.

“He’s a good corner and he got best by a great player today and some great passes that I don’t know what corner could defend.” head coach Jay Gruden said of Breeland.

For his part, Norman was not about to question the game plan.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM WASHINGTON'S BLOWOUT LOSS

“No, man. Like I said, our faith is trusting coach [defensive coordinator Joe] Barry, [secondary] coach Perry Fewell,” said Norman when asked about shadowing Brown. “That’s why the guys brought me here. Faith in me to do my job and not question one thing in the game plan.”

While it may be easy to take shots at the defense, considering that the Steelers put up 38 points, a couple of things should be pointed out here. For one thing, defenses rarely have their cornerbacks change sides to put a particular player on a particular receiver. As Barry explained, doing that confuses the assignments of all of the other defensive backs in the game and can often create more problems than it solves.

Also, it wasn’t like Breeland was blowing assignments and getting beaten badly. As Gruden noted, in many cases it took perfect throws and/or great catches for the plays to work. There may not have been much that Norman could have done, either.

“I mean, he’s the best in the business,” said Breeland of Brown. “I don’t take this as running under the cover. I take that as just improvement.”

Indeed, Breeland did not take cover after a rough day. He stood at his locker and answered questions from reporters for as long as they wanted him to.

The good news is that the Redskins won’t face many more QB-wide receiver combinations like Roethlisberger and Brown. There should be better days ahead but with another game coming up in just six days they need to get ready. In this league 0-2 is a disaster and a team trying to build on a positive 2015 season can’t afford that.  

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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USA Today Sports Images

The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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