CARSON, Calif. — Josh Norman has had enough.
Weeks of bitter losses, back-to-back blowouts and failed expectations have taken their toll on the Washington Redskins cornerback. And in the aftermath of another lopsided defeat, Norman couldn’t help but be blunt.
This isn’t what he envisioned when he agreed to wear burgundy and gold. He had banked on division titles, playoff berths and multiple postseason runs. But instead, Norman’s near two-year tenure has been punctuated by one disappointment after another. And Sunday was more of the same.
“I came here to win a championship,” the former all-pro corner said shortly after the Redskins’ 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers officially eliminated them from playoff contention for a second straight season. “If we’re not doing that, what are we doing? Why are we here?
“Because I’m not going to be a part of something that’s not going to go forward and win a championship,” Norman said. “That’s serious. I don’t care about the money, I don’t care about the fame, I don’t care about anything. The only thing I care about is that ring. You can strip me however you want to; strip all the titles I have to my name. If I don’t win a championship, that means it’s all for nothing.”
Norman arrived in Ashburn in April 2016, courtesy of a five-year, $75 million deal, expecting to be a difference-maker on defense, the missing piece in a secondary that needed more star power and shutdown corner skills. But his high expectations have now been replaced by a sobering reality.
Though Norman had remained optimistic in recent weeks, maintaining that there was still time for this team to finish strong and sneak into the playoffs, Washington (5-8) has proven itself incapable of consistency.
Sunday’s effort against the surging Chargers (7-6) featured another slow start by the Redskins’ offense, more coverage breakdowns from the defense and raised even more questions about Coach Jay Gruden and the direction of this organization.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 319 yards (256 of them coming in the first half) and star receiver Keenan Allen caught six passes for 111 yards, including a 51-yard completion on a perfectly executed flea-flicker that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon to put Los Angeles ahead 30-6.
Norman — who, along with safety D.J. Swearinger, chased Allen in vain on that backbreaking play — shouldered responsibility for the defensive lapses. “I’ll take blame for everything that happened today,” he said.
But when a crowd of reporters walked away, Norman expressed even more frustration over how he was deployed on defense.
“Of course. Of course,” he said when asked if he wanted to shadow Allen, as opposed to playing primarily at his left cornerback spot. “Anybody in the top position where I’m at, that’s what you do, that’s what you want.
“That’s why we’re here — I don’t know,” Norman added, sarcastically. “It’s tough to actually go out there and see things happening and then knowing that there’s something that you can do, that you can’t. So it’s very, very tough.
“And I’m not throwing anybody under the bus. I’m not trying to ride over anybody. It’s just, my abilities dictate who I am and who I want to become. And your opportunity, a chance like that, you can’t miss it. Those are the sweet, sweet, sensational moments that you’ve got to have for yourself, that you want to be a part of this game. And it’s unfortunate that you can’t have that today. I’m just going to have a sour taste in my mouth knowing that.”
The former Carolina Panther signed with the Redskins because, among other reasons, he believed the organization’s future was bright. But as he stood outside of the visitors’ locker room with his travel luggage by his side, a dejected Norman seemed unsure about what lies ahead for this franchise.
Although his current contract runs until 2020, his base salary in 2018 — $13.5 million — is guaranteed only for injury or if he’s still on the roster by the fifth day of the new league year.
Some may question whether Norman (zero interceptions, seven passes defensed this season) has lived up to his hefty contract. But the corner stressed that he’s simply following the orders of the coaching staff when he’s on the field.
“My play is fine. Everything they ask me to do, that’s what I’m doing,” said Norman, who missed several weeks this season with a fractured rib. “But there’s more that you can get out of me. There’s more in me. I’m not here to throw anybody under the bus or nothing. There’s a lot that I do want to say, that I’m not going to say, so therefore it is what it is at the end of the day. I’m premium here at what I do, at my position, and in my career. And that’s what it takes to go out here and find a win and do whatever it takes to shut down the best opponents. We have to do that. That’s what we’re here to do.
“And I’m not here to point any fingers or throw any blame at anybody because I take everything upon my shoulders. I’m the guy that you look toward when something goes wrong or if something goes good. I take it as well as I give it. So, for me, this hurts. It really does, man. It hurts when you can see more out of what you want to do in yourself, and you don’t get that. It’s just devastating to me. So I’ll sit on this. We’ll see how it affects others in a different way. It’s emotional. When you see things that you can’t do, it hurts.”
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