Josh Norman, LaDainian Tomlinson debate lack of shutdown corners

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NFL Network’s meaningless and flawed Top 100 list provides a framework for potentially meaningful debates. As recently noted by Scott Allen of the Washington Post, the placement of cornerback Josh Norman at No. 11 sparked an on-air conversation between Norman and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

With no other cornerbacks higher on the list than Norman, Tomlinson used that fact to support his argument that the NFL currently has no shutdown cornerbacks.

“If you say there are no shutdown corners, well there’s no game-changing running backs today,” Norman said to Tomlinson. “I was just with a guy named A.P. [Adrian Peterson], so I know he’s a game-changing running back, you ain’t got to tell me.”

Apparently, however, Tomlinson’s argument doesn’t flow from the absence of quality corners but from the absence of a clear-cut, no-debate, No. 1 guy.

“To me, when you talk about a top corner, you only name one guy, usually,” Tomlinson said. “If someone says, ‘Who is the top corner?’ one name is going to jump off the board. In years past, it’s always been Darrelle Revis. This was the first year that we can actually say, ‘Okay, maybe it’s Josh, maybe it’s Richard [Sherman], maybe it’s Darrelle [Revis], maybe it’s Patrick [Peterson]. We’ve got too many guys, that’s my point.”

But that’s not exactly the point Tomlinson made back in March, when he first applied the oven mitts as he served up his piping hot take.

There are no shutdown corners, at all,” Tomlinson said, initially. “There are none in the National Football League. . . . At this point they’re not shutdown corners.”

In a subsequent on-air debate with Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., Tomlinson focused on completion percentages allowed by the game’s top corners in 2015, comparing those numbers to Darrelle Revis in his prime to make the case that today’s corners just aren’t good enough to earn the label.

Now, Tomlinson’s argument seems to be that, because there isn’t a consensus best cornerback in the league at this moment, there is no “shutdown corner.” That’s like saying there are no franchise quarterbacks because, currently, there isn’t one guy who is clearly the best quarterback in the NFL.

Tomlinson’s revised point has merit, since reasonable minds can differ as to whether Norman, Sherman, Revis, Peterson, Harris, or someone else is the best cornerback in the league. His original point, however, is harder to sell — especially as pro football skews more and more toward the passing game.

It’s not easy to play corner in today’s NFL, with the rules continuing to favor completing, not defending, passes. Also, receivers are getting better and better, since they’re typically entering the league much better prepared to run routes and catch balls after all the time that is devoted to the passing game at the lower levels of the sport and the many 7-on-7 camps and other developmental programs aimed at crafting quarterbacks.

27 responses to “Josh Norman, LaDainian Tomlinson debate lack of shutdown corners

  1. Patrick Peterson is NOT a shutdown corner. He has all the talent/tools to become one, but it has yet come to fruition.

    The only true “shutdown” guys in the NFL are Revis and Sherman and Revis seems to have now lost a step.

  2. Norman will exposed as a one year wonder this season. The Panthers letting him go wasn’t a good sign for his real ability.

  3. remyje says:
    Jul 2, 2016 11:06 AM
    what about byron maxwelL

    What about him? He doesn’t belong in a top 20 discussion never mind top 5.

  4. There will always be a debate about who or if there are any shutdown corners in the NFL because the rules of today’s game prevents current players from having the impact of a “true shutdown corner”. The “business” of football dictates the rules of the game. Higher scoring = more interest = more money for NFL Ownership. NFL’s greatest shutdown corner Deion Sanders although he would still be great would not have the same impact on a game as he had 25 years ago. All this does not even factor in today’s NFL’s more complex offenses and bigger stronger and faster players. Imagine what Richard Sherman would do in the NFL 20 30 or more years ago.

  5. The actual argument is, the rules make it so there can be no shut down corners. I bet even Prime in his prime would get lost in the pack with todays rules.

  6. When you can pick up an undrafted kid from West Alabama for pocket change and he wins the Super Bowl for you, who cares.
    Malcolm Terel Butler made his mark in history already.

  7. The reality is, there isn’t one in the league right now.

    A shutdown corner, by definition, is a guy who lock-down the opposition’s No. 1, without any help from the safety.

    Sherman, Peterson, Norman, all require help, and even in his heyday, Revis needed safety help (remember how Moss exposed him without a safety with that one-hand catch a while ago)

    Honestly, the most recent Shutdown corner would have been Champ Bailey, as in his prime, he had the speed and technique to keep up with the best/fastest WR’s in the game.

    Go back further, it would be Deion, Darrell Green, Woodson.

    Every time someone mentions Revis as a shutdown corner, I just laugh.

  8. Revis beat Moss many times; Moss made that crazy one-hand catch, yes, and Revis pulled a hammy a second before as the play developed, let’s not forget.

    Watch his 2009 tape and/or look at the numbers from that season. He shut down Moss, Andre Johnson (in his prime) Chad Johnson (twice), T.O.(twice as well), Roddy White and Reggie Wayne to name a few. He allowed 2 TDs all season and not even a single 100 yard receiver. After the hamstring healed he had a great 2010 as well….he is slowing down now and probably not as good as Patrick Peterson but he was shutdown in his prime.

  9. I agree with LT. Right now the nfl doesn’t have a shut down in corner in the league. To me if your a zone corner you aren’t shutdown and its that simple.

  10. PFT-made-me-change-my-handle says:

    Now that Peterson’s healthy, he’s as close to a shutdown as can possibly be these days. Watch the film.

    ALWAYS covering #1 counts for something too
    Peterson gets torched on a regular basis, especially by big receivers. Megatron, AJ Green, Dez and guys like that tear him up. Sherman dominates those guys, along with Fitzgerald.

    This “always covering the #1” is baloney argument as well. It’s a red herring concocted by Deon Sanders when people started noticing Sherman was better than he was. It’s actually easier to cover the #1 all the time because you only have to do film study on one guy per week. Sherman not only covers everyone who comes into his area, he regularly covers the other teams #1 all over the field. Last year he was matched up 1 on 1 with the other team’s #1 about 6 times, and did that for about 70% of the snaps in those games. So pretending like Sherman isn’t the best because he doesn’t do that is just not correct.

    Sherman and Revis are the best. Peterson is a solid notch below and Norman is a one year wonder system guy. As to Sanders, if Sherman was allowed to maul guys the way Sanders was back in the day he’d give up about 3 catches a year.

    Also, when do the Seahawks go into “cap hell?” Here we are 4 years after I called you out on not knowing anything about the cap and the Seahawks still have the cap room to sign anybody they want, and all their core players are locked up for the next 3 years.

  11. Ppl arguing that today’s athletes are faster/bigger/stronger…yes, that pertains to the AVG player, but Deon was not avg.

    Unless you can point to a consensus #1CB coming out of the draft running a 4.2 40, then NOBODY was faster then Sanders (yes, I know his 40 is a bit of an urban myth, but I don’t doubt for a second he ran a 4.2 or FASTER and before all this olympic type training for the 40).

    He wasn’t just fast, but his acceleration, instincts and ballhawking were all 100 if you played Madden.

    What I didn’t know at the time (because Sanders was always a diva) was that his film study was also 100/100 .

    He would literally shut down an entire half of the field. It was amazing. And he didn’t go against slouch QBs either. Aikman, Young, etc were as accurate as it gets.

    I’m neither a 9er nor Boys fan, but I know what I saw when I watched Sanders, and that was quite possibly the most dominate DB ever. Revis in his prime is still not even in the same tier.

    Just don’t ask Sanders to tackle…

  12. You can’t say a corner shuts one side of a field down if an RB comes snorting and steaming round that edge, demanding a hit, and the CB is nowhere to be found.

    That is not shut down, that’s picking and choosing.

  13. Adam Jones gave up one TD last year, and only one completion over 20 yards. That includes playing AB twice – who many Bengal haters would argue, rightfully so, is the best receiver in the league. Not to mention his special teams contributions. He deserves to be in the conversation of the leagues best DB’s.

  14. Let’s have this conversation in a year or two. GB will have lockdown guys outside and in the slot with Shields, Randall and Rollins. Will be the envy of the league. Just watch….

  15. He cant cover in space, Lacks the speed to cover #1 WR”s on his own. Thats why Carolina let him walk. Any corner can be aggressive in a cover 2 defense… He is about to get exposed. Cant Count how many guys I saw get behind this guy. Carolina’s System saved him. 70 mil means you will be on a island LOL

  16. R Wilson s the best youn QB in the NFL.

    EVERY team would trade QBs straight up except

    GB, because Rogers is still young enough…
    Indy, because they’d look dumb…

    and possibly…

    Pats because Russ is honest.

  17. The folks that are saying that Dion would still be a No. 1 cb obviously didn’t see him playing in Washington. He is 48 now and probably couldn’t run a 4.8 40.

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