The Redskins' one-two punch at cornerback with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland want to succeed in the defense regardless of where they're playing or what coverage they're in.
Josh Norman has heard his fair share of questions this week about where he could possibly be, where he should be and where he wants to be on the football field.
His response: "Who really cares?"
Good point. Norman respects the fact that he's not a member of the Washington Redskins coaching staff. He believes that those who are in coaching roles will give the team the best chance to win.
"I think that anything I can do and am willing to do – I'm all for it. I think whether I'm traveling or not traveling, one side, left side – who really cares? Just get the job done," Norman said. "Whoever gets the job done, so be it. All this talk about this guy matches up with that guy – who really freaking cares? You come out with a W and you win the game, all of that is hogwash."
The questions of Norman's positioning have been nonstop since Monday's 38-16 loss to the Steelers – a game that was highlighted by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown catching eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Brown, arguably the best receiver in the NFL today, had two passes thrown to him with Norman in coverage. Both ended in incompletions, including one that was almost a catch and a forced fumble by Norman. Brown did most of his damage with Bashaud Breeland in coverage. And while Breeland was with Brown step-for-step on most passes, Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were able to hook up on passes that most – if not all – cornerbacks in the NFL would not have been able to stop.
"He made good throws," Breeland said of Roethlisberger after Monday's game. "He makes it easier for the receiver to catch the ball and put it away from me, so I couldn't get it off the back shoulder. That's all I can say about it, he's a good QB and the receivers played. I hope y'all don't think I'm going to hang my head or nothing like that. That story can stop. I'll be back next week."
Breeland, of course, meant Washington's meeting with the Dallas Cowboys – a team Breeland has had success against. Most notably, that success has come against Dallas' No. 1 target, Dez Bryant.
For Breeland, who enters his third year in the NFL, a Monday Night Football game in 2014 against Bryant and the Cowboys is one of his most memorable. On that night, Breeland held Bryant – a first-team All Pro that season – to just three catches and 30 yards. Breeland had six tackles and four passes defensed in the game as Washington pulled off an overtime upset in Dallas. In just one meeting last season, Bryant again only had three catches.
Performances like this, coupled with an entire 2015 season of strong play, has given the Redskins plenty of reasons to be confident in Breeland. One tough week hasn't changed the team's belief in Breeland's ability.
"He had a rock solid camp. I mean, he had a rock solid offseason. What he portrayed for us outside in OTAs and we went down to Richmond, we came back from training camp saying he's playing A ball right now," Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said of Breeland. "You could be in great position, you could be in great coverage, you either A) make the play or B) you don't. And he did not make the play, but he had pretty darn good coverage. He had pretty darn good position. Again, it was just a guy making a play and he didn't make it. So from a confidence standpoint, I still have confidence in him"
Norman, who has had some success of his own against the Cowboys' standout, will join Breeland in the game plan to contain Bryant. In Carolina's 33-14 drubbing of Dallas on Thanksgiving last season, Norman's Panthers held Bryant to two catches for 26 yards.
Check out behind the scenes images from Cornerback, Josh Norman's 2016 Redskins Photo Shoot.
Norman knows Bryant is looking forward to the opportunity to exact revenge.
"We played (Dallas) last year. I'm sure he knows that and wants to get back at that," Norman said of his 2015 meeting with Bryant. "We had a couple of conversations about that as well. I'm sure he's anxious and biting at the bit just as much as we are. We don't look at it as some kind of disrespect. We look at it as respect and knowing that two dogs are going to see each other."
While the respect from Norman is obvious, Breeland didn't hesitate to praise Bryant's abilities either, saying Bryant has "good body control" and that "he's one of those receivers that you don't want to let get the ball in his hands."
So how has Breeland had success?
"Good game plans. Smothering him, not letting him get the ball," Breeland said. "Not letting him have the chance to become a playmaker."
As for the game plan regarding the Redskins plans for Bryant, Barry wasn't going to give that away three days prior to the game. However, he did make one thing clear.
"I am still very confident in Josh and Bree, 100 percent," Barry said.