Josh Norman came to Washington last season with the reputation as the best cornerback in the NFL. He played well his first year with the Redskins, but statistically, his numbers weren't enough to get to the Pro Bowl.
A number of would-be interceptions slipped through Norman's fingers, seemingly every week, and his play outpaced his INT total. Still, especially early in the year, it seemed the Redskins weren't maximizing Norman's value.
Never was that more apparent than the first two weeks of the season when the Redskins got burnt by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Dallas' Dez Bryant. Former Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry insisted that Norman not shadow the opposition's best wideout. Eventually, that strategy changed, but not until much damage was inflicted.
With Greg Manusky now in charge of the 'Skins defense, will Norman travel with the other team's best receiver?
"Will we do that? Yeah," Manusky said last week after an OTA session.
Manusky explained that it's "important" to allow corners to travel with certain receivers, but he also won't demand it if a player isn't comfortable. The full answer made clear that the Redskins won't force Norman to move with wideouts, but at the same time, expect the $75 million corner to have more opportunities to make plays.
"I think just from a football perspective, he feels it and he knows it," Manusky said of Norman. "And I think they’re the players that you want on the field and that’s what he has. He has that feel for it, and when the ball is coming out, he can break on it."
That could mean more off-man coverage for Norman, allowing him to watch the offense develop more than press coverage allows.
"In a situation with Josh, we’re trying to play him a little bit off and have vision and see the quarterback, man-to-man situations and in zones, [it’s] something that he’s I think been taught a little bit before but some of that is a little bit different, and he’s made some plays," Manusky said.
Think back through the Redskins 16 games last season, and Norman easily could have doubled his interception total just by hanging on to a few more footballs. He's an elite athlete, and it would not be crazy to think that total will jump in 2017.
Manusky seems ready to let Norman make plays, which suits a playmaker.
Always something on social:
Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!