By Ty McEliece
As a player in the NFL, everything they do is watched, everything they say is recorded and everything they write is seen. For some, this can do wonders, while for others, it can really hurt.
Richard Sherman, for example, proclaimed himself to be the best corner in the league in 2014 and has lived up to his words. Contrastingly, Josh Norman had a great 2015 season with the Carolina Panthers, earning him a five-year, $75 million contract with the Washington Redskins to make him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL
In 2015 for the NFC’s best team, Norman started all 16 games, intercepted four passes, taking two for touchdowns, while totaling 19 passes defensed.
The impressive campaign led the 28-year-old to proclaim in the preseason that he is “the best cornerback on Earth,” via ESPN.com.
In his career, though, Norman has not always covered the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver.
Norman did not cover Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant in the Redskins’ first two games this season. Both of those receivers torched Washington’s other corner Bashaud Breeland.
Breeland gave up 113 yards and two touchdowns to Brown in Week One, while giving Bryant four catches for 57 yards the following week. Norman put up superstar numbers last year, and he surely can do it again.
But, his comments about himself put an extra spotlight on himself, and him not covering other teams’ best receiver adds another question mark.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was confused in Week One when Norman didn’t cover Brown.
“Especially if [Norman] calls himself – I don’t call him this, he calls himself – the best corner in the league, then you have to cover the best receivers on the other team,” Cruz said, via the New York Post (h/t NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk).
Cruz isn’t wrong in his statement, but Norman did shut down Odell Beckham Jr. last season for only 4 catches and 30 yards, while allowing the game-tying touchdown. To some that is considered a failure and that Beckham beat him, but only allowing six targets, four catches and 30 total yards to one of the most explosive wide receivers in the game is a victory.
Norman is an elite cornerback in the NFL, and he has shown in the past that he can shut down opposing teams’ best receivers. So whether it is the Redskins telling him to cover the No. 2, or it is Norman’s choice, he needs to start walking the walk the walk, becuase no one will consider him the best corner in the league if he’s not stopping the best recievers in the league.