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Josh Norman says with new Redskins defense, 'Everything is about football, nothing else'

Josh Norman says with new Redskins defense, 'Everything is about football, nothing else'

In 2016, the Redskins defense struggled, ranking near the bottom in a number of categories. Their third down defense landed among historic lows, and besides sacks, no position group can claim they performed particularly well. 

The Redskins biggest addition last season was the arrival of Josh Norman. He played well, though he missed a number of interceptions and racked up an inordinate amount of penalties. 

Norman's arrival brought with it a lot of attention, as his release from his franchise tag with the Panthers came via unusual circumstances. His rivalry with Odell Beckham also carried a lot of visibility, and it seemed almost from the start, Norman was working to adjust to life with a new team while figuring out a new system.

Last week, Norman said he thought 2016 was his best season as a pro because he proved he wasn't a system guy like some claimed of his success in Carolina. Norman, though, believes the 2017 Redskins will be much better than last year's version.

"We're building something great, small steps first. We got guys that are really actually in the thick of things. Lockjaw. Dogs," Norman said (full video above). "Everything is about football, nothing else. That's what you need."

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Listening to Norman, it's easy to think about all of the distractions that popped up for him and the Redskins this time last year. This offseason, the franchise invested heavily in the defense.

The team used their first three draft picks on defensive players for the first time in 20 years, and took a defensive lineman in the first round for the first time in 20 years. D.J. Swearinger arrived via free agency, and he could be a big piece in stabilizing the secondary.

"He brings that attitude to our defense," Norman said of Swearinger. 

Already on the practice fields, it seems Swearinger is shouting out coverages and play design pre-snap more than last year's safeties did. Pro Football Focus rated Swearinger as the 8th best safety in the NFL last season. Will Blackmon was the Redskins highest rated safety in 2016, and he ranked 29th. No knock on Blackmon, as he was converting from corner to safety anyway.

It's easy to be optimistic in June, but Norman seems genuine thinking this defense could be different. With Swearinger, and Zach Brown at linebacker and rookie Jonathan Allen up front, the Redskins defense has new horses from the front to the back in the interior. That should help.

For Norman though, it's the work ethic that stands out. No defensive player missed a single voluntary OTA session, and the from the first team to the third team, the group seems engaged and fired up on the sidelines.

"Nothing but football, eat, sleep, drink it. We got guys that are hungry," Norman said. "You look for those guys that want to prove something, because when you have those guys, man, the sky’s the limit, you can do whatever you want to do."

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198