Quarterbacks and coordinators quickly learned that testing Josh Norman wasn’t a good idea. It was a hard learned lesson, but they learned it. Since Week 4, teams have avoided Norman more than any corner in the league, and it’s by a lot. More than Richard Sherman. More than Patrick Peterson, and more than Derrelle Revis. Through Week 4, Norman saw a ball thrown his way an average of every 5.2 snaps in coverage downs. 4 interceptions later, one game saving and two for touchdowns, quarterbacks have avoided Norman like the plague. Over the last three games, Norman only sees a ball thrown his way ever 23.5 coverage snaps. He’s resorted to baiting quarterbacks by trailing receivers to create an illusion of an opening, then springing like a grasshopper to make a breathtaking play. It’s exhilarating and intense.
Norman is known for taking chances. His willingness to live on the edge, in fact, kept him on a short leash early in his career. After trying things “his way,” Rivera monitored the young talents early development closely. Since last season, however, Norman has proved his the risk he takes are are calculated and yield dividends. There’s a trust now in the coaching staff and by his teammates that he can shut down anyone. Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, isn’t likely to try and prove them wrong either.
Over the last four weeks, the Packers’ offense hasn’t been the well-oiled machine we’re used to seeing. Last week’s, behind the barn, beating by Denver has some fans to panic, calling on Rodgers to “take more risks and be a little more like Favre.” Mike Reuter reports they want him to “throw the receivers open if they are covered.” They want him to take more risks.
Injured, without Jordy Nelson, and with Eddie Lacy with powdered sugar around his mouth, the Packers offense hasn’t been able to beat defenses like they have in the past. The hobbled group has struggled against press coverage especially, and Rodgers has avoided taking unnecessary chances. He’s been cautious, and particularly so, when in tight coverage. Methodic, careful, and precise, it's an M.O. very much different from Josh Norman's.
Don’t expect Rodgers to change his game Sunday against the Panthers either. Like last year against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks, look for Rodgers to intentionally avoid taking greater risks around Norman.
By Tony Dunn, aka the Professor
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