Josh Norman has been under the microscope since he arrived in D.C. after unexpectedly being released by the Panthers in the spring of 2015. The former All-Pro corner had a career high 19 passes defended, four interceptions and two touchdowns in 2015 with Carolina. He chipped in with 56 total tackles. Despite the lack of any touchdowns during his first season in Washington, Norman may have played just as well as his All-Pro season in Carolina, recording 67 combined tackles, 19 passes defended and three interceptions - yet no post-season honors came his way.
2017 saw his numbers take a dip, as he recorded just nine passes defended and zero interceptions over 14 games. He did make 64 combined tackles however, and if he’d played in all 16 games, he likely would have broken his career high of 73 which he set as a rookie in 2012.
The 30 year old corner still has some excellent years ahead of him. He is entering his seventh year in the league, and is in outstanding shape (thus noted from his appearance this spring on Dancing With the Stars). He may not be the fastest defensive back in the league, but he makes up for that with outstanding technique, quick hips, jarring hands that can knock a receiver off his route at the line of scrimmage, and very good ball skills.
The Redskins return both starting safeties from last season in D.J. Swearinger and second year pro Montae Nicholson. Swearinger is the vocal leader of the defense, and provides a great understanding of route concepts and tackling ability on the back end. Nicholson, who is coming off an injury-shortened rookie year, is a tremendous athlete with exceptional range and hitting ability. This tandem should help Norman be able to take some gambles, knowing he has solid help behind him. The trust the unit has as a whole should only continue to grow as the season progresses.
I feel the secondary will be a strength of the team in 2018. Despite losing veteran corner Bashaud Breeland, the Redskins should be set with Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey and new-comer Greg Stroman to compliment Norman at corner. The aforementioned safety tandem of Swearinger and Nicholson may be the best combo the Redskins have put on the field since Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry roamed the defensive backfield for the first half of the 2007 season.
Josh Norman 2018 season predictions:
68 combined tackles
17 passes defended
2 forced fumbles