Barry’s defense failed to generate a takeaway in four of their final six games and allowed 140-plus yards on the ground in each of their final three tilts. It was especially disturbing to see the typically ground-challenged Giants blow through Washington’s front seven for 161 yards in Week 17.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport later suggested a candidate who might wind up taking Barry’s spot: Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks, who obviously brings a working knowledge of Redskins star cornerback Josh Norman, who delivered an All-Pro campaign under Wilks in 2015.
Washington general manager Scot McCloughan knows Whitner from their time together in San Francisco, and might view the veteran as a potential starter over strong safety David Bruton, who has been hideous against the run and pass.
The Redskins need help in the secondary, but it doesn’t stop there. After watching the team allow Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell to play like an evolutionary Marcus Allen in Week 4, Washington will be targeted by opposing run games until they show any hint of resistance. Don’t hold your breath.
Jared Cook returned from his seven-week absence with a bang. The tight end, acquired by the Packers in the offseason, had by far his best game in the green and gold and his best since Week 1 of 2013. Cook finished with 105 yards on six catches and a team-high 10 targets, providing Aaron Rodgers with a consistent receiving threat in the middle of the field. His fourth-quarter fumble in Washington territory cemented Green Bay’s loss, but wasn’t enough to dampen a promising return.
The controversial, ambiguous, no good, very bad catch rule nearly reared its ugly head again. Jordy Nelson’s game-tying second-quarter touchdown grab was nearly called back on a challenge because Nelson didn’t fully possess the ball in the end zone. Though the right call was eventually made, the play brought to mind Odell Beckham’s non-catch against the Patriots, one that was ruled incomplete upon review.
Before the trade became official, rumors flew that Stork — who has dealt with concussion issues — could retire instead of joining the Redskins.
Now on Monday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Stork failed his physical with the Redskins and his rights will revert back to New England. Rapoport noted that the Redskins had become frustrated with Stork during the saga.
“It’s over,” coach Jay Gruden said after the game. “We played a very good team today and we didn’t get it done. And just like that, your season’s over. You just got to say goodbye. So hopefully we’ll see y’all next year, appreciate their hard work. They all did work hard, played hard. Just weren’t good enough.”
The Redskins’ collapse down the stretch — losing four of their last six games — will lead to an offseason of speculation about quarterback Kirk Cousins’ future. In a big spot, Cousins flopped, throwing two interceptions (including one on a potential game-winning drive). With no help from the run game, the quarterback couldn’t keep the chains moving against a good defense.
After the Panthers placed and then suddenly rescinded their franchise tag on Norman, the All-Pro signed a five-year deal with Washington, becoming the most valuable cornerback in the league at $15 million a year. Norman’s absence in Carolina’s secondary was immediately felt at the start of the season, most notably against the Falcons during Julio Jones’ 300-yard game, and has haunted Ron Rivera and Dave Gettleman throughout the year. Meanwhile, the corner is having quite a nice season in Landover — he’s the 18th-ranked cornerback in the league according to Pro Football Focus — and is proving wrong those who suggested he was a product of a Carolina game plan that kept him away from top-tier wideouts.
Of course, Norman has a massive chip on his shoulder, saying earlier this week that he’s as eager to match up against his former team “just as much as I’m looking forward to being Santa Claus.” Whatever that means. We expect the quips to keep coming on Monday night and to see some fireworks from both sides when Norman lines up against Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn and Carolina’s receiving corps.