By Nick Shook
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Fans of star-on-star matchups, rejoice!
We’re primed for at least two Josh Norman/Odell Beckham hypefests, and another pair of Norman/Dez Bryant showdowns after new Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told reporters he’ll have his corners moving around the field to shadow specific receivers.
“It’s hard for them to travel at times, but will we do that? Yeah,” Manusky said, via ESPN.
As with most directional (left or right) positions, a player tends to feel more comfortable on one side than the other. A left tackle will feel more comfortable on the left than the right. The fine details of their fundamental actions feel more natural. But this shift in strategy suits Washington’s top cover man, Norman, who thrives against bigger, more physical receivers.
This season, Norman and the Redskins are facing divisional opponents that all feature larger wideouts: Dallas’ Bryant, New York’s Brandon Marshall (though it’s expected to see more of Norman covering Beckham), and Philadelphia’s new arrival, Alshon Jeffery. Bigger No. 1 targets also loom outside of the division, in Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and the Chargers‘ Keenan Allen, among others.
Manusky understands the issue of positional comfort. But he’d rather have his best man covering the opposition’s best man. Or, Manusky said, there could be scenarios in which Norman takes an opponent’s lesser target, while Washington dedicates two defenders to the other team’s top receiver.
What it does make is an authentic Player A vs. Player X preview, which is largely untrue in today’s age of complex defensive schemes. We can finally put a little more stock in Norman’s braggadocio and wait for it to be put to the test come Sunday. What a time to be alive.