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Joe Barry explains benefits of not moving Josh Norman

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: Defensive back Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins acknowledges the crowd in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedExField on September 12, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

In a city where left and right typically are debated in a far different context, one of the big topics in D.C. since Monday has been the placement of $15 million-per-year cornerback Josh Norman.

Coach Jay Gruden has suggested that Norman possibly won’t stay in one place, a la Richard Sherman in Seattle. On Thursday, defensive coordinator Joe Barry explained the value of sticking with Norman on one side of the formation.

“It’s easy for the guy that’s [moving],” Barry told reporters. “It’s hard for the other 10 guys to get lined up. I shouldn’t say 10 guys; it’s hard for the other three or four DBs to get lined up. If you are coming to cover me, that’s easy. But him, him and him, I could go anywhere. I could line up at X, I could line up at Z, I could line up at Y, I could line up in the backfield, I could line up anywhere. Now if I always told you that I was lining up right here, that’d be simple. You guys could play off of me, but if you don’t know where I am going to align, then these guys really have no clue. It’s easy for you to get lined up but the other guys, it’s difficult and that’s why most of the time, people get talked out of it, especially with offenses that move their guy around. And they do a really phenomenal job because people try to do that and they make it difficult just because of all of the different places that he aligns. It is hard for the other guys to get lined up in a timely matter, especially in a no-huddle offense with the tempo.”

The explanation makes sense on the surface, but plenty of defenses have figured out how to match the top wideout with the top corner, wherever he may go. It makes it harder to play zone coverage. But why would anyone primarily play zone coverage with a $15 million-per-year corner, anyway?

Keeping a Norman or a Sherman on one side can work if the player has help around him. In the first game of the 2014 season, the Packers decided to concede the right side of the offensive formation to Sherman, focusing on throwing the ball away from where he aligns. But the Seahawks had (and still have) the firepower elsewhere to shut an offense down — as Green Bay learned.

Washington currently doesn’t. The coaching staff thought it did, with Bashaud Breeland across from Norman. Barry joined Gruden in a sort-of passive-aggressive we-thought-he-would-be-great-sorry-he-wasn’t assessment of Breeland’s play.

“He had a rock solid camp,” Barry said. “I mean, he had a rock solid offseason. What he portrayed for us outside in OTAs and we went down to Richmond, we came back from training camp saying he’s playing A-plus ball right now. And again, number one at corner, you have to win the one-on-one and it is very simple. You could be in great position, you could be in great coverage, you either (A) make the play or (B) you don’t. And he did not make the play, but he had pretty darn good coverage. He had pretty darn good position. Again, it was just a guy making a play and he didn’t make it. So from a confidence standpoint, I still have confidence in him.”

All that said, will Barry concede they should have defended the Steelers and Antonio Brown differently? Um, no.

“I felt really good — and I still do — with the plan that we had,” Barry said. “I would have been a little bit more concerned maybe if we got burned or there was some incredible kind of separation, but it was good solid coverage against a great wideout and he made a play and we didn’t. And our plan, we felt comfortable with our plan because we thought a number of our corners had a great offseason. We thought that a number of our corners had a great training camp, so we were confident in our plan and we were confident with Josh or Bree covering him, we really were. And I am still very confident in Josh and Bree, 100 percent.”

It remains to be seen if that confidence results in Norman and Breeland staying put, or if Norman draws the assignment of covering Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, with the rest of the secondary being asked to handle the apparently challenging duties before the snap — but not nearly as challenging after it — of not covering Bryant.

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42 Responses to “Joe Barry explains benefits of not moving Josh Norman”
  1. vikings1234 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:30 PM

    I would say “Hmmmm, other teams mange to get their secondaries lined up OK when moving cornerbacks”.

    Maybe the Wonderlic has value after all

  2. waynefontesismyfather says: Sep 15, 2016 5:33 PM

    Joe Barry is just digging a bigger hole for himself and the Redskins. No need to bring up lame excuses about other DBs having to line up where ever in a timely manner.

    If Norman is supposed to cover the other team’s #1 then you follow that guy to whichever side of the line of scrimmage he is on.

    If the guy goes to a concession stand to get a hotdog Norman should be step by step with the guy.

  3. davikes says: Sep 15, 2016 5:33 PM

    If he would have kept talking longer, the press would have had no idea what he said.

  4. dobreshunka says: Sep 15, 2016 5:37 PM

    In other words, “We would have lost by 40 if we had him cover Brown, you want that?”

  5. tjacks7 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:38 PM

    So, I guess the only question left is… How do the defenses and DBs with the leagues best corners line up correctly when those guys follow the other teams best receiver? Personally, I don’t think it’s too hard for the other DBs, I just think Joe Berry doesn’t understand it.

  6. 26predator says: Sep 15, 2016 5:39 PM

    You would never see Deion anywhere but across from Rison. Just sayin.

  7. bleedingfacemask says: Sep 15, 2016 5:40 PM

    “In the first game of the 2014 season, the Packers decided to concede the right side of the offensive formation to Sherman, focusing on throwing the ball away from where he aligns.”

    In the last game of Green Bay’s 2014 season, the Packers decided to throw a TD pass to Sherman. That lost touchdown cost them a Super Bowl berth.

    Sometimes, teams are smart. Sometimes they’re not.

  8. halfcentaur says: Sep 15, 2016 5:45 PM

    He’s really just proving how unqualified he is for the job he has. As if moving a defender to maintain more favorable matchups ruins the rest of a defenses ability to do their jobs.

    If they’re not being asked or taught to do it that way, that’s one thing. But trying to make it sound like it can’t be done? That just tells me he doesn’t know how to teach it even if he wanted to. And therefore probably should not be in charge of one of the 32 NFL defenses in the world.

    Even with Jay Gruden after the game, “oh if we ever move him from that one spot it gives away straight man coverage every time” first of all no it doesn’t, and second if these corners are even HALF as good as you hype them to be (or in Norman’s case, PAID him to be) then guess what, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF AN OFFENSE KNOWS WHO THEY’RE COVERING!

    If he’s a lock down corner, like you called him and like you paid him, then he can LOCK IT DOWN even if they see it coming. Think the Jets ever masked Revis’ coverage? Think every single #1 WR who went up against him didn’t know that he was lining up on them every play?

    The Panthers moved Norman frequently and they do not play a lot of straight man coverage. Get creative guys, maybe try some basic film study.

    Trying to sell us the benefits of having the best WRs in the league repeatedly scorch your 2nd best CB. Alright, good stuff. Enjoy the job hunt next year

  9. amaf21 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:48 PM

    Detroit Lions (2007–2008)
    Defensive coordinator

    that’s the only explanation anyone needs.

  10. stealthjunk says: Sep 15, 2016 5:50 PM

    Every other team can do it, so why not Washington? Sounds like a poor coaching job to me if you can’t teach your players what to do depending on whether a receiver is on one side of the field or the other.

  11. KIR says: Sep 15, 2016 5:53 PM

    Wasn’t he the D coordinator of the 0-16 Lions?

  12. bigfish761 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:54 PM

    Breeland shut down Dez last year so I really don’t see much of a problem going into this week. Dark and Dez ain’t exactly Rothlisberger and Antonio Brown.

  13. theparadoxx82 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:55 PM

    So he’s basically saying he doesn’t know how to coach?

  14. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 15, 2016 5:55 PM

    Inflexibility is a recipe for losing.

    If you can’t make in game adjustments to what your opponent is doing and still “feel good” about a strategy that helped you lose the game you’re not doing a good job as a coach.

    If you were, in fact, doing a good job, your secondary would be able to adjust man coverage so your best DB is on the best receiver because they would be well coached.

    Instead they got torched and you try and defend it.

  15. absolutevisuals says: Sep 15, 2016 5:56 PM

    It’s not like Breeland is trash, from what I seen on that game. Antonio Brown is just levels better than him, and Ben had some accurate passes. He got burned on a few hitch routes, played them close, but Brown’s break steps are almost surgical.

    More importantly, what is with all this focus on Josh Norman & Breeland. Last time I checked, the secondary aren’t going to make the linebackers suddenly stop the run, or the d-line prevent gaps from opening. Human nature to give priority on one thing for petty reasons (contract) is silly, because then you’re ignoring the other important things. The Redskins need work. Norman trailing the #1 isn’t going to fix that.

  16. macjacmccoy says: Sep 15, 2016 5:57 PM

    People are putting to much on this stopping Dez narrative. Dez Bryant is barely average with out Romo. So me personally I wouldn’t consider anything vindicated if for example Norman doesn’t trail him and Dez is still held in check. Thats is what I expect to happen no matter what with Dak at QB.

  17. elmerbrownelmerbrown says: Sep 15, 2016 6:01 PM

    If this is the case the money should never have been spent on him !

  18. 26predator says: Sep 15, 2016 6:01 PM

    Oh, and about Joe Barry. During the debacle that became the 0 – 16 season in 2008, Detroit News Columnist Rob Parker got fired for asking the then Lions’ head coach Rob Marinelli (who is Joe Barry’s father in law) if he wished his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator. lol

  19. juddgr says: Sep 15, 2016 6:03 PM

    This is just an excuse, They are very Poor coaches and have no idea how to regroup at halftime and change things that needed changing. Guess I was spoiled because of Joe Gibbs. Jay needs to visit him or watch some of his action before and after halftime and LEARN.

  20. Patty Dubs says: Sep 15, 2016 6:18 PM

    The Skins overpaid, as they almost always do, for a free agent. Norman is good, not great. He’ll be exposed by several “Top WRs” that he plays this year. And if Norman isn’t on Dez, OBJ, Jordan Matthews, AJ Green, Jordy Nelson, Fitz, and Jeffrey the Skins will be looking at a top ten pick in 2017.

  21. sdchicken says: Sep 15, 2016 6:19 PM

    He is embarrassed because of a bad coaching decision, then by not adjusting to the obvious fix. He went for the philabuster confusion move today in the media, but it also did not work.

  22. minson15 says: Sep 15, 2016 6:23 PM

    Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results- Insanity

    He’s by definition insane to think that’s going to work.

  23. thefirstsmilergrogan says: Sep 15, 2016 6:25 PM

    even jim haslet knows thats a load of manure…..

  24. FeedtheOldtotheYoung says: Sep 15, 2016 6:25 PM


    8 catches 126 yards, 2 TDs.

    From the movie Platoon: “Damn, you dumb!”

  25. bpurd says: Sep 15, 2016 6:33 PM

    When Pittsburgh played Seattle Sherman did follow A. Brown. Pretty much erased him. Brown ended with 6 catches 51 yds no tds. Only 26 yds on 3 receptions came on Sherman. Sherman also had 2 picks. Great job by Sherman but Seattle gave up the most passing yards in the Pete Carroll era that game. Why because other guys were playing in areas they aren’t use to covering. Sherman has followed Calvin, A. Brown, Dez and Green. Eliminated all of them but the defense in those games wasn’t the same.

  26. hailrskins says: Sep 15, 2016 6:35 PM

    Good thing they passed on Wade Phillips to get this guy.

  27. justintuckrule says: Sep 15, 2016 6:36 PM

    what’s the difference? someone is following him. It should only be the CBs that are changing assignments depending on where AB goes, not the rest.

  28. coolhandluke242 says: Sep 15, 2016 6:43 PM

    Both Gruden and Barry were BAD HIRES to begin with. Since they are not your guys McGlock…fire them both and let’s move on. Still ain’t sold on Cousins either.

  29. internetcommenter7 says: Sep 15, 2016 6:55 PM

    This is one of the most embarrassing explanations in the history of explanations.

  30. zibet says: Sep 15, 2016 7:02 PM

    Its very simple we didnt move him because we only signed him to sell tickets. So we couldnt take that chance

  31. stealthjunk says: Sep 15, 2016 7:16 PM

    This is the defensive equivalent of having Joe Montana at QB and not letting him throw the ball because your team is “more comfortable” with running plays.

  32. iseek11 says: Sep 15, 2016 7:27 PM

    This is Revis in Tampa and Asomugha in Philly all over again.

  33. iseek11 says: Sep 15, 2016 7:37 PM

    I remember Denver putting Champ Bailey on Tony Gonzalez (both in their prime) the entire game. Our best against your best. The KC passing game was completely thrown off. If you’re worried that your players will have difficulty lining up, then you’re a bad coach. Pure and simple. One game in and we can already tell 2015 was a fluke.

  34. mattphillipsdc says: Sep 15, 2016 7:38 PM

    The defense only looked good when we put pressure on Roethlisberger. It’s just like last year when we played the vanilla defensive football teams ran and threw on us at will.
    If your not going to put Norman on the best receiver then how about giving Breeland help over the top with the safety.

    Extremely disappointed in the coaching and the mistakes from the players. If we don’t change and become a lot more aggressive on both sides of the ball, like we were in the second half of last season, except the playoff, we are in for another disappointing season.

    Hopefully, this is a wake up call to the players and especially the coaches. We can’t have all those penalties by veterans or anyone and the coaches need to be able to do a lot better job of making in game adjustments.

  35. blackula72 says: Sep 15, 2016 7:51 PM

    Richard Sherman followed Brown last year and shut him down with the Seahawks using a mixture of zone and man. Last year was the first year Seattle started moving Sherman around so it can be done. Seams like the Redskins defensive coordinator is making excuses for failing to make adjustments. Norman played Brown well. Thee was only 1 snap where Brown had him dead to rights but the pass rush got Ben to before he could make the play.

  36. cfos00 says: Sep 15, 2016 7:59 PM

    “The explanation makes sense on the surface, but plenty of defenses have figured out how to match the top wideout with the top corner, wherever he may go. It makes it harder to play zone coverage. But why would anyone primarily play zone coverage with a $15 million-per-year corner, anyway?”

    Just pointing out the obvious since you’re comparing him to Sherman. Richard Sherman is one of the highest paid corners in the league, and also plays primarily zone defense. You pay people according to how well they can play your scheme.

  37. kmdp4 says: Sep 15, 2016 8:07 PM

    Breeland had coverage try watching the game, Brown and Big Ben made plays that no CB was going to cover one on one.

  38. MichaelEdits says: Sep 15, 2016 9:35 PM

    That’s just pathetic. Goodbye Joe Barry.

  39. headskinnation1 says: Sep 15, 2016 9:52 PM

    Careful examination and in-depth analysis are so hard to comeby in these days. Take said CB in this article. He was a great zone coverage corner in Carolina. Washington picked him up and they knew what they were getting(a great zone coverage DB). He takes away half the field. In defense of Bashaud Breeland, he did a great job in coverage under close examination. The first td pass the ball went through his hands. Im betting Antonio Browns does this repediately through-out this seasons, as he has done in previous seasons.

  40. manzoa says: Sep 16, 2016 3:11 AM

    Richard Sherman followed Brown last year and shut him down with the Seahawks using a mixture of zone and man.

    Yeah it was an “awesome” performance by the Seattle D. The Steelers amassed 538 total yards (1oo more than Seattle). Ben was 36/55 for 456 yards. Steelers lost because of poor defense on their part…they owned the Seattle D all day long.

  41. demskinsbaby says: Sep 17, 2016 8:26 AM

    Norman will be exposed? … Antonio couldn’t do it so he switched sides to Breeland like a coward.

  42. HeakRavocSports says: Sep 17, 2016 8:30 PM

    So you players are not smart enough, your coaches too dumb, or your too lazy. Got it.

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