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Changing defensive coordinators might help Redskins accomplish long-standing goal: Maximize Josh Norman

Changing defensive coordinators might help Redskins accomplish long-standing goal: Maximize Josh Norman

UPDATE (7:40 PM): The Cleveland Browns are working on a deal to hire Steve Wilks as their defensive coordinator, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Three seasons of Josh Norman with the Washington Redskins are in the books. 

The results are good, not great and certainly nowhere Norman’s magical 2015 campaign with the NFC champion Carolina Panthers. Zero playoff appearances, no Pro Bowl berths for the cornerback, zippy top 15 team defensive rankings. 

Neither of the team scenarios falls directly on Norman. His status as the highest paid player on the defensive side warrants scrutiny, which is among the reasons why it’s possible he doesn’t return next season.

So does the way the Redskins coaching staff used the $75 million man. 

We all remember the early debates over why Washington passed on having Norman travel with star receivers in coverage even though that’s not how his former team, the Carolina Panthers, deployed him. Other squabbles emerged with Norman’s role under two defensive coordinators, Joe Barry and Greg Manusky, the current holder of that title.

The corner passed on adding to the discussion the day after Washington’s season ended when asked about whether the coaching staff made the most of his abilities.

“I don't break rank. I don't break rank at all. I try to do what I can do to help out the team. I don't impose my will or Bogart a situation. That's just not who I am as a person. If that's something you want to do, then OK, (then so forth). You got me here, you're the coach, and that's what you pay a player to do is to follow in suit,” Norman said.

Now rumors swirl of a DC switch ahead of the 2019 season. If a change occurs, strongly considering the coach who oversaw Norman’s best career season simply makes too much sense. 

Let’s be clear: Nobody is or should suggest hiring Steve Wilks, Norman’s defensive backs coach in Carolina, becomes a magic elixir for a defensive unit that labored over the second half of 2018. 

Wilks joined the ranks of the unemployed when the Cardinals relieved the former Panthers defensive coordinator of his duties after only one season. Arizona finished 3-13. Cardinals team president Michael Bidwell put ample blame on Wilks’ decision to switch schemes from a 3-4 to a 4-3. 

One year isn’t enough time for such changes to take root. There were other missteps, including with some assistant hires. Wilks also no longer benefited from the presence of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Be leery of acclaim for coordinators when the head coach comes from the same side of the ball, as was the case in Carolina (Please ignore the Jay Gruden-Sean McVay parallel).

The upside of Wilks in Washington stems from his insider knowledge with Norman. 

"It was just a relationship that we built outside of football," Wilks said of Norman ahead of the Week 1 Redskins-Cardinals game this season. "I was able to relate to him and get him to play at his best on the field."

They both joined Carolina in 2012, Norman’s rookie season. By 2015, Carolina turned into NFC champions and Norman a playmaking Pro Bowler attacking offenses from all angles. That version captivated the NFL and had the Redskins swooning when the Panthers made Norman available the following off-season.

Washington continues waiting for THAT version. Norman finished 2015 with four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, three tackles for loss and two touchdowns. Over his three years with the Redskins, six interceptions, two fumble recoveries, three tackles for loss and zero touchdowns. 

Don’t get it twisted. Norman holds down his end as Washington’s top corner. There is also a viable financial reason for his possible release, namely saving $21 million in salary cap space over the next two seasons. 

The release of another talkative defensive back, D.J. Swearinger, may lead to Norman staying. For a team already with a lengthy list of needs, creating a major hole at corner would add another concern.

Adding Wilks may boost Norman’s value should he stay. The reunion might help maximize the cornerback’s strengths.

“Try to stay in rank and do the things you're supposed to do, the things you're asked to do. I do what I'm asked to do. But can I do more, of course,” Norman said. “I would like to come off the edge a couple times, be impactful in that sense. But, I do whatever I'm asked to do and do it to the best of my abilities. That's all I can do, you know.”

Manusky remains the defensive coordinator. Who knows if Wilks would want the job if offered considering the swirling chaos at Redskins Park over the final weeks of the 2018 regular season. There’s value in kicking those tires if the Redskins plan to keep Norman. 

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Former Redskin Josh Doctson signs with New York Jets

Former Redskin Josh Doctson signs with New York Jets

Former Redskins' wideout Josh Doctson has found another home, again. 

Doctson, 27, signed with the New York Jets the team announced Saturday morning via twitter. 

Washington selected Doctson with their 22nd pick in the 2016 NFL draft after he put up monster numbers at Texas Christian University. However, his collegiate success never quite translated to the professional level. During his three seasons in D.C. he played 33 games, recorded 81 receptions for a total of 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns.

After Washinton released Doctson last September he joined the Minnesota Vikings, but injuries held him to only one appearance and no catches. 

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Josh Hart tries to recruit Stefon Diggs to Redskins amidst trade rumors

Josh Hart tries to recruit Stefon Diggs to Redskins amidst trade rumors

New Orleans Pelican Josh Hart tried to recruit Stefon Diggs in a twitter exchange Thursday surrounding Jordan Reed’s release from the Redskins.

Reed was released on Thursday after six seasons and seven years on the team.

In a tweet commemorating Reed’s accomplishments, the Redskins called him “one of the best in franchise history” and thanked him for his years on the team.

Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed his disappointment in Reed’s release by quoting the tweet with a crying emoji. Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs shared similar feelings by responding to the quote saying “not my dog j reed…”.

Diggs is a Maryland native but has been with the Vikings since he was drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft in the fifth round.

In response to this exchange, Hart chimed in and pleaded with him to “Come on home bro #HTTR”.  Hart, a D.C. native and long-time Redskins fan, is not the only one who has been looking to help the Redskins with their player recruitment.

Haskins has also made recruiting for the Redskins a habit this season, engaging with players like Ron Rivera and Antonio Brown through social media regarding coming to play in DC.

Hart's interaction with Diggs is particularly notable considering that his recent social media has left Vikings fans wondering what his next moves are. In addition to cryptic tweets potentially linked to his dissatisfaction with his team, Diggs also took down all of his Instagram pictures which feature him in a Vikings uniform.

Could Diggs be heading to the Redskins? If Hart has any say in the matter, maybe.

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