DeJon Gomes, like the rest of the Redskins secondary, was expected to struggle against Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints vaunted air attack.Only he didnt.With the exception of a personal foul in the first quarter and pass interference infraction in the third, it could be argued that Gomes was among the Redskins best players on defense last Sunday. He finished the game tied for team-lead in tackles (4), combined tackles (5) and returned a fourth quarter interception 49 yards deep into Saints territory.Not bad for a second-year professional making just his sixth career NFL start. The 22-year-old strong safety replaced injured veteran Brandon Meriweather (sprained knee) and figures to get the call again Sunday in St. Louis.I thought he did a good job in a lot of areas, but theres room for improvement like everybody, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. I thought the guy stepped in and was cool and calm. Thats kind of his demeanor anyway. He did a nice job in both the running game and the pass game.Gomes afternoon did not get off to the type of start he had envisioned.On the Saints second drive of the game, he was whistled for a late hit on Darren Sproles, putting New Orleans on the Redskins 20-yard line. On the next play, Brees hit Jimmy Graham for the go-ahead touchdown.I guess it could have went either way, Gomes said Thursday. But I have to be smarter than that.It was the lowlight of an afternoon that, for the most part, only got better for Gomes.In the third quarter, he was whistled for pass interference after breaking up a pass deep in Washingtons end. Four plays later, the Saints settled for a field goal.Gomes then made amends for the two penalties with his clutch play in the fourth quarter as the Saints mounted a comeback bid. The home team had trimmed its deficit to 33-25, had the ball again and the Redskins were reeling.But Gomes, in essence, clinched the Redskins victory when he stepped between Brees and Lance Moore on a deep pass near midfield. Gomes snatched the ball, zigzagged across the field and nearly scored before getting shoved out of bounds at the three-yard line.Alfred Morris punched the ball into the end zone next play to put the Redskins ahead 40-25 and the game out of New Orleans reach.Gomes said it was his biggest play since junior college.My high school running back days came out of me, he said with a laugh. I was just trying to get as many yards as I could.Told of Gomes running back comment, Haslett had some fun at the safetys expense.Why didnt he score then? he cracked.
Josh Norman is great talker. He almost always has something provocative to say, and his Bleacher Report interview published Thursday didn't buck the trend.
Norman's sneering at NFC East receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant drew immediate, look-what-he-just-said attention.
But let's not gloss over the larger theme of this interview: Norman thinks the NFL is headed down the wrong path. The timid path.
In his five seasons, the Redskins corner has been on the receiving end of flags and fines for taunting and excess contact. And yet he told Bleacher Report that he's never once met commissioner Roger Goodell.
Asked how he would handle the commissioner job differently, Norman started with interpersonal basics.
"First, I would change how I handle people. For one, you don't show up anywhere. You don't show up where the players show up. So how are you going to know what they want?"
"If this is the guy who is your commissioner, who makes all these rules, wouldn't you think you'd want to see him other than when you get in trouble?" he continued. "Why would I see you if I'm in trouble—what's the point? Why wouldn't I see you before then so you can eliminate that?"
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But Norman's criticism morphed from finding fault with Goodell to dissatisfaction with the overall evolution of the league.
You're going to recognize this argument. It starts with defensive players lamenting how NFL rules have moved to limit contact, turning guys timid.
"Now you have to stop and think about it before you actually hit somebody or you're going to get fined," Norman said. "But where's the offense getting fined?"
Then comes the nostalgia for the old days when football players were tough, as opposed to today, when everyone is Mary's little lamb.
"Playing the way people used to play it in the old days. Like Mike Haynes. Those kinds of guys. Lester Hayes. People who played it with violence and ruthlessness," Norman said when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave. "Lockjaw. No pussyfooting around. No inching off. None of that softness."
It's that soft mindset of the modern world that's diluting football, and the young guys are part of the problem.
"We have too many soft guys, too many guys coming up saying, 'I don't know....' Playing their little off, soft technique," he complained. "That's how the soft mind-set of this world has us thinking now."
This line of reasoning should be very familiar so far, but most that espouse it stop short of saying what they're going to do about it.
"You can't touch guys after five yards. ... Screw that! Hands on. Call it if you call it. So what. You're going to have to call it all game."
"I want him to see me with my hands in his face. That's what I want you to see. In their chest, their breast plate, so they cough up air. They skip a beat in their heart kind of thing," Norman said.
So ... expect some rule-stretching this season? Perhaps against NFC East opponents?
"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year," he warned. "There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't."
"I'm letting all hell break loose."
Well, then. Noted. We'll let the league – and the Redskins – decide how to feel about this plan.
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NFC East opponents don't challenge Josh Norman. Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. are fake tough, no real threat to him. Not like some other receivers in the NFL.
At least that's how the Redskins corner described them in a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report published on Thursday.
The gist? The Cowboys and Giants stars get no respect from Norman, though both were involved in memorable feuds with him the past year.
Norman got his first opportunity to talk trash when asked to do word association with the name "Dez Bryant." He took the opening and returned it for a touchdown.
"That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy," Norman said.
"He doesn't 'wow' you. For me, he don't. For other guys, he probably will do the worst to them because he'll bully them. But you can't bully a bully. You know what I'm saying? That's why his game doesn't resonate to me."
To jog your memory, Norman and Bryant went at it after the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Thanksgiving last year. Bryant said Washington should get a refund on Norman's contract. There was also drama about whether Norman falsely accused Bryant of threatening to "unload the clip" on him.
Real mature, substantive conflict.
The Redskins corner didn't go any easier on Beckham, who of all receivers in the league has had the most explosive run-ins with Norman.
In fact, Beckham's helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman in a 2015 contest between the Giants and Panthers led the NFL to change rules for ejections. Beckham had racked up three unnecessary roughness penalties in that game.
"[Beckham] tries to be a tough guy. He tries to put on this persona which he's not. Because he's always going to have his head on a swivel. Always. Always when we play each other," Norman said, suggesting that he's able to push OBJ over the edge and out of control.
"He's scary like that. He does things that he normally wouldn't do because of all the pressure and added hype that he has to put on his whole persona. He's not this guy. If you go back and watch the games in which we play compared to the games we don't play each other, he's a totally different guy."
"When people get physical, tough, like the Minnesota game, he acts out. He's a kid. He's a big kid, man," Norman concluded.
It must have been an exercise in restraint not to mention OBJ's kicking-net tantrum after losing to the Redskins last year.
As the interview moved on, there wasn't a receiver that drew respect from Norman until the name Julio Jones came up. Norman got to see the Falcons receiver twice a year when he played for Carolina in the NFC South.
"Now, that is the ultimate challenge. That's when I can do things in a split-second, a millisecond, just choo-choo-choo," Norman said of facing Jones. He said he's missed that challenge since moving to the NFC East.
"It's the worst. Because I'm just battling 'guys.' I'm not battling against something I can call 'greatness.' I'm not enhancing my craft. Don't get me wrong. They're tough. But they're not [Jones]," he said. He also named Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffrey as other receivers who could provide a real test.
But whether those matchups excite Norman or not, he knows they can't touch the hype of NFC East showdowns, especially ones involving Beckham.
"That game gets so hyped up by the time we play them, it won't even be Giants vs. Washington—it'll be me and him. ... Because now you have us on Thanksgiving Night. C'mon, man!"
The interview ended with Norman looking forward to playing with new Redskins safety DJ Swearinger, who has a reputation as a hard-hitting intimidator.
"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year. You think the NFC East didn't like each other before? This year right here? There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't. And I know they don't have that many people on the offense who do on their side."
"I'm letting all hell break loose."
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