ASHBURN -- The rumors are flying all around the 0-2 Washington Redskins. Oh, joy. The latest involves the highly anticipated Week 3 matchup between cornerback Josh Norman and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. What's interesting isn't the main headline -- Norman to follow Beckham -- but the new subplot.
This new subplot sounds like an utter joke or comical excuse. The scariest part? If it's true.
Here's the report* from ESPN. The part in bold is the focus:
Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman will follow New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium, a Redskins source told ESPN's Britt McHenry on Wednesday.
Norman will go "anywhere Odell goes ... except for slot," the source said.
Washington's coaching staff wanted to make the decision sooner, but it didn't want to upset Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Breeland wasn't pleased with the team's decision to assign Norman to the No. 1 receiver the past two weeks, so the Redskins backed off.
However, Washington's staff has decided to stick with its original game plan of Norman always shadowing the opposing team's top wideout.
(*No reason to doubt the report. The source's motivation, however...)
Now, the "will follow" part is the most important in terms of Sunday's crucial matchup. It's also not surprising based on how Carolina used Norman last season against Beckham. Washington also had Norman stay with Dallas WR Dez Bryant as last week's game progressed.
As for this part of the report, coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday, "I don’t know where that came from but we’ll have a plan for sure for Odell [Beckham Jr.] and the whole Giant football team." Norman quipped, "Somewhere I saw a leak that says I’ll be shadowing (Beckham) everywhere but the slot, but it’s kind of crazy because I didn’t get the memo."
There were no flatout denials. One player hinted at the accuracy, noting the report popped not long after team's morning meeting.
Now, that other part, about not wanting to upset Breeland, hold up. Let's look at this.
* We can start with the most obvious point: Washington handed Norman a fat contract for $75 million with $36.5 million guaranteed. Money doesn't always dictate role, but two games into the season, it better. Whether the Redskins wanted Norman in man on the likes of Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown or Bryant is another story.
* Defensive coordinator Joe Barry spoke at length after the Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh about the difficulty of having Norman or any CB follow one receiver because of the overall impact on the defense. Whether a reasonable or eye-rolling take, it's what the man said.
* The idea of playing zone with those corners is at least justifiable. Here's some of what SI.com's Andy Benoit wrote about Norman's situation on Wednesday.
Any talk about Norman getting to play more man coverage in Washington is, and always has been, nonsense. Maybe coach Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Joe Barry pitched more man coverage to Norman in his free-agent visit. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe Norman thought there would be more man coverage. Or maybe not. But this was always crystal clear: No defense in 2015 played more pure zone than Washington. This defense typically played straight Cover 2 (two-high safety zone) or straight Cover 3 (single-high safety zone). Cover 2 and Cover 3 are what Norman played the most in Carolina (by a wide margin, in fact). He had become the best zone corner in the NFL. Which is why the purest zone defensive team wanted him. Plain and simple.
* Lastly, a report on Wednesday saying Norman would track Beckham could mean squat come Sunday. All sides play games through the media. It also might be the plan. Coaches and players say stuff. One source told Breaking Burgundy that Washington could use Breeland in the slot on some packages. We'll see.
This reported Breeland angle? That is next level intrigue and at first glance, crazy.
Breeland, who took on top corner duties last season, was peeved when the Redskins signed Norman. That said -- and no disrespect to Breeland -- but it should take a player at highest level to dictate coverages based on personal preference. At the moment I'm not sure if by highest level I mean All Pro or Darrell Green/Deion Sanders, but either way, this cannot be a thing, right?
If the answer to that question is yes, oh boy. Coaches coach and players play. If the first group starts taking cues from the second group because they "didn't want to upset" someone, look out. There was already talk of training camp/preseason having been a bit too player-friendly and how that played a role with penalties and inconsistency in the Week 1 loss. Others note ways that at times indicate a lax environment. Losing is one thing. Talk of inmates running the asylum is another especially at (gulp) 0-3.
So, what can we believe? For now, logic.
Breeland did offer a cryptic suggestion.
To get instant Redskins notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!
Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Breaking Burgundy Insider! Check it out HERE.