“The defense shouldn’t be this bad, and I personally don’t think it will be all year, but they are reaping what they sow,” Kevin Sheehan said on The Team 980. “You want to run your mouth about how good you are, then the fans, media, people like me are going to hold you to a high standard that you’ve claimed to take a hold of. … Josh was impressive all summer, wasn’t he? Jumping that bull in Pamplona? The organization got a kick out of it — ‘Oh, that Josh Norman.' I wonder what they’re thinking about him now. … As a football player right now, he stinks.”
Toward the end of training camp, Norman declared this defense the best unit he’d been a part of since he signed with the Redskins before the 2016 season. Inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s “ultra-talented” unit had top-five potential. The Redskins have allowed 63 points and 910 yards through two games, and on Sunday, Norman watched a wide receiver run past him for a 51-yard touchdown catch for the second straight week.
“Either they gotta change their coverage or stop letting him be one-on-one with people,” Brian Mitchell said Sunday on NBC Sports Washington’s postgame show. “He can’t run with the fast receivers.”
Grant Paulsen sympathized with Norman over his displeasure with some media outlets for suggesting his innocuous comments about Prescott were meant to disparage the Cowboys’ quarterback, but he didn’t appreciate the timing of Norman’s rant, after another ugly loss in which he played poorly.
“This is classic deflection stuff,” Paulsen said on 106.7 The Fan. “This is classic loser handling of business after the game. I’m not going to say he got beat because he was on an island, and he got burned because he was supposed to have help. I don’t know or really care what happened. The bottom line is Josh Norman, again, was trailing someone who scored a 50-yard touchdown."
“I am so over it,” Danny Rouhier, Paulsen’s co-host, said. “If he were an undrafted free agent, it would be so cool. He’s not. So much is expected, so little is being delivered. I’m so sick of his act."
Former Redskin Doc Walker said Norman’s performance on Sunday was the “same old thing.”
“Josh always look like he’s in the middle of something, so it makes you think, well, was somebody else supposed to be somewhere, or him?” Walker said on The Team 980.
“If he wants to play football next year, it will be on a veteran minimum deal,” fellow 980 host Steve Czaban said of Norman. “Once upon a time, good player, nice player, got his money, owns his horses, has his interests, likes to jump bulls, is a minus corner right now. Not the worst I’ve ever seen, but he’s a minus. ... He plays very soft because he knows he’s vulnerable. He tried that ‘Peanut’ Tillman punch-out on Jason Witten, missed badly.”
Norman is far from the only reason the Redskins fell to 0-2. The defensive line failed to put much pressure on Prescott and Washington’s running game struggled to get going. Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis couldn’t understand why Adrian Peterson only had 10 carries.
“I don’t think there’s any back that’s going to be able to operate getting two-and-a-half carries per quarter,” Portis told Paulsen and Rouhier. “It’s just not suitable for a running back. You can’t get in a groove. If there’s someone who had more to play for yesterday than AP, I want to meet him. ... They got away from [him] so quick. You never really tried to establish the running game.”
The Cowboys’ domination came to the delight of many in the FedEx Field crowd, which was roughly half Dallas fans, prompting Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses to tell the Sports Junkies on Monday that he “would like to see more of our die-hard fans there.”
“I just want these guys to focus on playing good football,” former Redskins receiver Santana Moss told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “Go out there and give them something to come see. That’s all I can really say. I’ve been a guy that played in packed stadiums and a guy that played in not quite so packed stadiums. ... You gotta win, man. Trust me, I’m in the same boat with them. Yeah, I want guys to show up, but if you don’t give them something to watch, they’re not going to come.”
When the Redskins’ schedule came out, with a brutal opening stretch featuring four games against 2018 playoff teams in the first five weeks, it wasn’t hard to envision Gruden’s team starting 1-4 ahead of a date with the Dolphins on Oct. 13. Washington is well on its way to meeting those low expectations, but the way the defense has played in the first two weeks has turned up the heat on both Gruden and Manusky. Mitchell, for one, assigns most of the blame to the former.
“I like [Gruden] as a person, but as a coach ... he has shown me that he’s not mentally tough,” Mitchell said on The Team 980. “He lets everything affect him, so I have an issue with that. ... I’m not holding Manusky accountable, because the head coach can get anything done that he wants. If you’re not making him do it, then it’s your fault. On the offense, if you’ve got the same people that have been holding for four years, jumping offsides for four years and they’re still doing that and you’ve never done nothing to reprimand them, it’s your fault. That leader better get better or this team is going to continue being average.”
The Redskins are a below average team through two weeks, and unless the defense improves, that doesn’t figure to change. In other news, three former assistants on Mike Shanahan’s Redskins staff while he was going 24-40 over four years in Washington — Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan — are a combined 6-0 as head coaches this season.
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