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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."

MORE REDSKINS: HERE'S WHAT THE NEW DB'S COACH IS DOING DIFFERENTLY  

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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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

Through six weeks of the NFL season, it's clear who the Super Bowl favorites are.

In the AFC, it's, um, well, OK, let's do the NFC first. In the NFC, you have to watch out for — actually, nevermind, this isn't that easy.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Chiefs and Eagles are the only two teams standing at 5-1, but there are quite a few 4-2 squads right behind them, as well as talented 3-win teams who can take any opponent down if they bring their best stuff. That means that as the halfway point approaches, both conferences are still open races.

And those races got a lot more interesting after a fun Week 6. The power rankings look a lot different than they did before the weekend because of Week 6's results, too.

So, click the link above or below to see who's moving up and who's sliding back. Or, in the case of the Browns, who's sliding but staying in the same spot simply because they can't be dropped any further.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

Did you guys know C.J. Beathard is related to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard?

Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.

But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.

1) A big recovery by a big man 

One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.

Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.

MORE: WHERE JONATHAN ALLEN WILL BE MISSED MOST

2) Kirk's questionable decision

Kirk Cousins provided what proved to be the game's deciding points with his fourth quarter read option touchdown. But it was an earlier run that could've been much more important, and not for the right reason.

On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.

Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.

3) Samaje's second effort

Samaje Perine has a long way to go before he becomes the player many hoped he'd be when the Redskins snagged him in April's draft. But it was him traveling a short distance in the fourth quarter against the 49ers that was a crucial yet overlooked play.

Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.

4) A way too powerful punt

The Redskins' execution after recovering that late onsides kick wasn't just bad on offense. Tress Way's touchback was unsightly, too.

Even after Washington took a delay of game penatly to give their punter more room, Way booted his kick well into the end zone instead of forcing the Niners' returner to fair catch or giving his gunners a chance to down it. Next time, Way needs to use a little less club and force the opposing offense to start farther back than their own 20.

RELATED: WHY CAN'T THE REDSKINS HOLD ON TO LEADS?

5) Dunbar delivers

Perhaps because of all the injuries in the secondary, as well as an abundance of other things to chat about, a really strong performance from Quinton Dunbar isn't getting the necessary recognition. 

The visitors threw at Josh Norman's replacement often — 14 instances, to be specific — but he more than held his own, ending the contest as PFF's highest-graded 'Skin. Jay Gruden said earlier in the week Dunbar thinks he can cover "anybody, anywhere, anytime," and for the most part on Sunday, No. 47 did just that.