Jay Gruden gives ‘merit’ to idea of putting Josh Norman on opponent’s top WR
Antonio Brown lit up Washington’s defense for 126 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night in Pittsburgh’s 38-16 win, leading many to wonder why Washington didn’t put their top defensive back on him for the entire game.
After all, the team signed Josh Norman in the offseason for $75 million to be a shutdown cornerback. On top of that, splits via Pro Football Focus show Brown did nothing while being covered by Norman, but destroyed Bashaud Breeland:
Antonio Brown matchup splits from #MNF
vs Norman: 2 targets, 0 catches
vs Breeland: 8 tgts, 7 rec, 113 yds, 2 TD pic.twitter.com/CUYNzL6cBH
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 13, 2016
So why didn’t Washington put Norman on Brown more, or exclusively? Washington head coach Jay Gruden was asked this very question in his postgame news conference. He responded by stating his faith in Breeland, while noting that there was some “merit” to the notion of putting Norman on a top guy in the future.
“A little bit,” Gruden said when asked if he’d given consideration to putting Norman on Brown. “Breeland’s done such a good job in training camp. Breeland’s one of our corners, and he’s a good corner. He got beat by a great player today on some passes that I don’t know what corner could defend.
“So I’m not going to lose faith in Breeland. But there could be merit to that down the road, later on. But I love our two corners. I like all four of our corners. They just made some great throws and great catches.”
Norman not being on Brown exclusively was not a surprise to those who followed the comments from Washington’s coaches prior to the game.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) September 13, 2016
For his part, Breeland isn’t letting his poor showing get his confidence down.
— Chris Russell (@Russellmania621) September 13, 2016
Regardless of what Gruden says about Breeland, he’d be crazy not to put Norman on his opponent’s top receiver next time. That is unless he wants to see another monster game from an opposing wideout.