It’s been awhile since my last appearance here on Check Down, where I made some predictions on the end-of-year MLB Awards, you can check that out here:
For now, I’m here to talk about one of the biggest stories from last year’s NFL season: the breakout of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman. His performance with the Panthers last season helped them to a Super Bowl appearance, and his ability to act as the team’s shut-down corner made it difficult for opposing offenses to really get anything going downfield. He kept big plays off the board and big-name players out of the end-zone. His performance earned him a $75 million dollar contract with the Washington Redskins, where he has been anything BUT the same player he was last year. My point will be brief, but harsh.
Josh Norman is a trash cornerback.
So far this season, Norman has been the biggest trash-talker out of all the defensive backs in the league. There’s a big difference between him and guys like Eric Weddle, Eric Berry, Reshad Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and the list keeps going: Their jobs come before their mouths. Something I’ve noticed from watching wide receivers matchup with these players is that the talking doesn’t happen unless the defensive back is getting torched, or if the matchup has been pretty even. Julio Jones lit up Norman’s replacement over at Carolina for 300 yards earlier this year, to which Norman responded, “You get what you pay for…”. Do you though?
I’m going to very simply lay out Norman’s opposing wide receiver numbers this year. They’re nowhere near the title of “All-Pro”.
Week 1: Antonio Brown, Loss to Steelers 16-38
Someone Redskins fans and football watchers will claim that Norman didn’t cover Brown the whole game, to which I say, what is the logic in not covering the league’s top receiver with an All-Pro defensive back? All I have to say is, 8/11 for 126 yards and two touchdowns is not trash-talkable material, in any sense. If he was covering him, he’s trash. If he wasn’t, prove you can actually shut down a wideout! Let’s see if he did in Week 2…
Week 2: Dez Bryant, Loss to Cowboys 23-27
Nope! 7 receptions for 102 yards is not a “shut-down” performance. I’m a Patriots fan, and I consider a shut-down performance by Malcolm Butler, nowhere near a top-25 defensive back, around 50-60 yards. All-Pro corners shouldn’t be sniffing 100 yards. Richard Sherman looks really good right about now.
Week 3: Odell Beckham Jr, Win against Giants, 29-27
He got away with one, but not really. This is one of many situations all season where it wasn’t so much the defense to blame for allowing 27 points, but extreme praise to Kirk Cousins for an outstanding offensive performance. 7 receptions for 121 yards? Still never paying $75 million for a Norman. Beckham got the W in this matchup from the controversy of last season.
Week 4: Terrelle Pryor, Win against the Browns, 31-20
Look Josh, your team beat the Browns. Bet you’re super proud of that. More proud of that or the touchdown you let up against Pryor? Still didn’t shut the team down entirely. I’m willing to concede that Weeks 5 and 6 were passable performances from Norman. His team won and he didn’t allow outstanding numbers. That’s it though. Onwards with hammering the biggest mouth in the league!
Week 7: Marvin Jones, Lost to Lions, 17-20
Norman must’ve been so pumped about wining 4 games in a row that he forgot he was lined up against the league’s leading receiver at the time. Marvin Jones only caught 4 passes, but for 94 yards! That’s either terrible coverage or awful tackling. I’ll let Josh tell us about that one.
Week 8: A.J. Green, Tied the Bengals at 27
9 receptions for 121 yards. Not a shutdown corner. Not a loss. Not a win. Still trash. Next.
Week 10: Stefon Diggs, Win against Vikings, 20-26
13/15, 164 yards. But they won! So Norman must be sick! Not. Next.
Week 11: Jordy Nelson, Win against Packers, 24-42
Hey only 3 receptions for 28 yards! There you go Norman, finally some “shut-down” defense. Oh but Nelson scored a touchdown. Nevermind. Next.
Week 12: Dez Bryant, Lost to Cowboys, 26-31
5 of 7 for 72 yards. Lot of trash-talking. Much credit to Dez for remaining level-headed and catching balls against Norman for the whole game. Bryant made some big plays in that game.
For me, the headlines of the season have been the outstanding performances by Kirk Cousins. In a year where the strongest division in the NFC might actually be the East, I would almost be upset that the 4 games lost have been at the fault of Josh Norman and the $75 million the organization paid for his services. Josh Norman will be under my microscope for the rest of the year, that’s for sure. There will be more to come on Norman’s trash year with a few weeks left in the regular season. Let’s see if he’s the hero or the haunting of the Redskin’s playoff hopes this year.