The Washington Redskins fell short in Monday night’s thriller at the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, the 29-20 defeat may not be the toughest loss on the night for the Redskins. Their star cornerback Josh Norman exited the game in the second quarter after making a tackle on Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley.
Norman appeared to fall hard on his side as he was trying to punch the football out of Conley’s grasp. Norman got up immediately favoring his side, holding his shoulder in place. He went to the sidelines and later to the locker room for X-rays.
Unfortunately, Norman’s exit spelled doom for a Redskins defense that was playing near lights out to that point in the game. The very next play after Norman left the field, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith found tight end Travis Kelce on an option post route against Bashaud Breeland for Kansas City’s first touchdown and points of the game. Washington held a 10-0 lead up to that point.
During the ESPN telecast, Lisa Salters reported that Washington head coach Jay Gruden called Norman’s injury “significant” and that he would “likely be out a couple of weeks” with a rib injury. Following the loss, it was revealed the Redskins’ best defensive player suffered fracture ribs.
#Redskins CB Josh Norman has a fractured rib. He said it hurts to breathe "but it’s mortal pain. You just gotta try to fight through it.”
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) October 3, 2017
Norman’s presence on the field has been a tremendous boost to the development of the Redskins defense. This season with upgrades, Norman’s shut down ability has allowed the Redskins to play superb much of the season. Norman injected a change of attitude in the Redskins secondary dating back to last season. His ability to shadow any receiver finally gave the Redskins a cornerback of prominence that they had yearned since Darrell Green.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 2, 2017
Entering Week 4, Washington had the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL. They were coming off a dominating performance the week prior against the Oakland Raiders in which they held Oakland to 96 passing yards. That same attitude and good execution was on full display against Kansas City until Norman’s injury. The Redskins then struggled to get pressure on Smith and keep an eye on the elusive Kelce.
Monday’s loss of Norman will be felt throughout the defense. His absence was evidence in the second half against Kansas City. Alex Smith caught a groove passing the football and ended up completing 27-of-37 for 293 yards a touchdown. Once Norman left the game, Redskins defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, scrambled his coverage in the passing game. The luxury of Norman cutting off one side of the field was gone and it showed.
Luckily for the Redskins, they have a bye week next week and they get a break against the inept passing of the San Francisco 49ers. That will be the only break they get in the coming weeks. The Redskins will play the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints in succession. All of which have potent passing games or capable wide receivers that can change the complexion of a game.
Breeland and Kendall Fuller are developing into solid NFL starters and both play their part within the Redskins’ defensive scheme. However, neither is Josh Norman. Fuller excels in the slot, Breeland is best in soft coverage. Quinton Dunbar can give solid play in limited snaps. But it remains to be seen if he can keep a high quality of play when his snap count increases.
Tough one. 😔 pic.twitter.com/ZF4XY1e3Pm
— NBC Sports Redskins (@NBCSRedskins) October 3, 2017
The length of time Norman is out of action will be determined following an MRI later. However, his dejected reaction as he walked the field of Arrowhead Stadium following the game illustrates the mood and thoughts of the Redskins defense moving forward without him.