Jay Gruden still seems reluctant to match Josh Norman against the opponent’s best receiver

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Washington unveiled its $15 million-per-year cornerback on Monday night by doing what few expected them to do: Not match him up primarily if not exclusively against the best receiver by far on the opposing team.

But that’s what happened with Josh Norman. He stayed on one side, like the Seahawks have done with cornerback Richard Sherman. And, like the Packers did two years ago in the opening game of the season, the Steelers opted not to challenge him on a regular basis with the best receiving threat they have.

Unlike the Seahawks, which otherwise had the talent in the secondary to combat a decision by Green Bay to ignore half the field, Washington didn’t. On Tuesday, coach Jay Gruden reiterated that the team thought it did.

“I think Bashed [Breeland], he’s a great competitor,” Gruden told reporters. “He really is. He’s made some great plays throughout training camp and last year he started to grow a lot. We felt like he was in a good position to be one of . . . a very good corner this year, and we still think that. He just got beat by a great player a couple times. I know there are some plays he wishes he had back. I think he was looking for the ball, trying to make plays on the ball when he should have just been studying Antonio and staying with Antonio. He lost sight of him a couple of times, lost track of the ball a couple times, and missed a couple tackles that he normally makes. It wasn’t his best performance, obviously, but he was going up against the best in the National Football League, one of the best. It was a good learning experience for him, but we’re not going to give up on him and I know he’s not going to give up on himself. He’s got great confidence and he’s still a great player in our book.”

It’s one thing to not give up on Breeland. It’s another to not make full use of a guy whose pockets owner Daniel Snyder stuffed full of cash. So will Norman be moved around to match the other team’s best receiver?

“It could be,” Gruden said. “The issue is you like to not show your hand in man-to-man all the time and so every time he travels, it’s man-to-man. Then you have issues with pick plays and all that stuff. That’s something that we can look at, but we still feel like Breeland can cover a lot of people in the league, man. He just had a couple rough plays and a couple unbelievable throws and catches by Ben [Roethlisberger] and Antonio, man. Hats off to them.”

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the Steelers deserve plenty of credit for playing well, in all areas of offense. But it’s impossible to know whether Washington would have had a better chance at slowing Pittsburgh down if they’d entrusted Norman to neutralize Brown, It is possible to wonder whether they should re-evaluate their position on the specific position Norman will play, especially with Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant coming to town on Sunday.

20 responses to “Jay Gruden still seems reluctant to match Josh Norman against the opponent’s best receiver

  1. in other words we made a bad investment on Josh Norman. his success was based on carolina’s front 7 and now he’s being exposed. should have saved some money for a couple of defensive linemen.

    Jimmy smith takes brown all game when the Ravens play the steelers. that’s what #1 corners are supposed to do.

  2. When your confidence is shot like Breeland’s was, of course you are going to miss tackles. It shouldn’t surprise people, Breeland gets beat quite often, dont believe me ask ODB.

  3. Paying him $75 million to cover…….Sammie Coates? Who’s he covering next week, Terrence Williams? Man, i hope Sterling Shepard is ready for this match up lol good stuff

    They called the guy the best corner in the league and paid him like one. Then they tell him to stand on the other side of the field and watch the best WR in the league burn their other corner all night long.

    Way to go Washington. Great plans coming together here

  4. They just didn’t want AB to completely expose him; by keeping him on the other side of the field the nation wouldn’t have seen him getting completely lit up all night. This way he can still claim he’s great.

  5. Also funny hearing Gruden talk about how great Breeland is and how he can cover anyone, and they were talking in the offseason after signing Norman about how they thought he was the best in the league……but then says they can’t line Josh up in man coverage on the best receiver or ever move him from one spot because it gives away their coverage?

    First of all, if both your starting corners are half as good as you try to tell us, then it wouldn’t matter if an offense knew who they were covering. You paid him like a lockdown corner but then are afraid to ask him to lock anything down lol

    Second, just because Josh may have lined up against AB on the other side of the field doesn’t automatically mean it’s straight man to man. It could be the same zone coverage with the corners just flipped, it could be a combo man-zone coverage, could just be switching assignments in a shell coverage, like jesus man GET CREATIVE HERE! This guy is a head football coach? His thought process on the game is this simplistic but we’re supposed to believe this is one of the 32 best football minds in the world? Man, give me a break.

    Third, like i was describing above, the Panthers didn’t play a lot of straight man coverage but Norman still moved. Maybe try a bit of basic film study there, Jay. Maybe invite Joe Barry to come with ya, learn a thing or two that coaching mediocre linebackers in San Diego apparently didn’t teach him.

    Washington is a joke. Football and otherwise

  6. Gawd that insanity quote is so played out…. obviously whoever came up with it never heard the saying practice makes perfect….ya know…when you do the same thing over and over and expect to get better ie: different result.

    Can you imagine if Michael Jordan had listened to that stupid insanity saying and just gave up shooting over and over expecting to get better?

  7. Funny how people act like Norman was scared. I don’t like the guy much, he’s a lot of things, but scared or coward definitely isn’t one of them.

    He’s an arrogant dude and wants that feather in his cap of taking on the best.

    He likes to talk and run his mouth, but it’s funny how the people who claim to hate everything about him sit around and do the exact same thing towards him.

    If your take on the situation is “Norman was scared” or anything along those lines, then you’re just as dumb as Norman is loud.

  8. @my_old_name_was_offensive – lol yeah i’d say the definition of insanity is thinking things as layered as the human psyche and the journey of our growth and existence can be summed in regurgitated generic quotes. It has it’s applications, but the way some people regurgitate it just reminds me of Ron Burgandy.

    “Right. When in Rome.

    Uh Ron, that expression doesn’t really apply to what I’m talking about

    Oh. I still don’t quite understand what it means”

  9. Yeah, you’d prefer not to reveal coverages pre-snap, but good game planning takes into account strengths, weaknesses, and matchups. If a garbage CB frequently gets stuck in iso-man against an ELITE WR…maybe that’s not good planning…

  10. I’m trying to understand this…what kind of adjustments will the Redskins make if the rest of the opponents they play, do the same that Pittsburgh to pretty much get Josh Norman out of the game?

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