Seemingly every Redskins game since 2015 has been a referendum, of sorts, on Kirk Cousins as a quarterback. But the aftermath of Sunday’s 38-30 loss to Minnesota felt a little different.
The typical ‘Is Kirk worth $30 million’ was still there, but it had a partner.
Afterward, D.J. Swearinger — who had two interceptions in the game — told reporters the defense wasn’t ready to play in the first half. When asked if he got the sense during the week that could be an issue, the safety pointed to a dull end-of-week practice.
“I wasn’t nervous, but our Friday practice wasn’t good enough,” he said. “As the defense, I’ve been saying that all year. Our Friday practices has got to be the best practice we have. If we don’t start that culture here, that our Friday practice has got to be your best practice, your most mentally sharp practice, we’re gonna keep losing.”
“As a defense, we can’t give up 31 points, bro,” he said. “I mean, it starts in practice. It’s the only thing I can say about it. It don’t happen unless you allow it in practice. Early in practice we were getting gashed. I remember Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we were getting gashed in the run. Coach said we weren’t good enough, and it happened, so you’re gonna practice like you play.”
“I try to say it all the time, but you can’t just say it, you gotta do it,” he said. “We got to do it as a group. It takes all 22. The first- and second-string gotta be tuned in, so as a defense, we just got to lock in, man, and understand that you got to be consistent in this league to win. If we don’t be consistent, we’re gonna keep losing.”
After hearing those comments, JP Flaim of The Sports Junkies suggested the scrutiny should be turned onto Redskins coach Jay Gruden.
“And comments like that make me go back to what I think the theme of the week is gonna be,” Flaim said Monday. “I think there’s gonna be a lot of scrutiny on Jay Gruden. Big picture, Jay Gruden is coaching a .500-ish team — not awful, not great.”
EB: But that’s what the expectation was.
JP: I know, but at some point a head coach has to take your team to the next level. That team, the Minnesota Vikings, to me, has bigger injuries than what the Redskins have. Alright, the Redskins for a couple weeks had a bunch of offensive linemen out. But that team lost their starting quarterback. That team lost their first-round draft choice running back, who was a stud. That team yesterday didn’t have their Pro Bowl defensive end and their starting right tackle, and that team is 7-2. Coaching sometimes takes your team to another level, and there certainly were questionable decisions, and yes, he doesn’t run the defense, but Cakes mentioned it; this team, the Washington Redskins, is giving up 30 points on the regular.
EB: Yeah. I don’t know how I can blame Jay for the defense. You can. I can’t.
Cakes: Yeah. All the people that were praising Manusky over the past few weeks, I’m guessing they’re running and hiding, because the defense is showing major leaks at this point.
JP: And I know you guys, when we had this discussion about the extension, were like, ‘Ah. Who cares about the money,’ and I generally agree with you. I don’t care about the money. But it made no sense to me last year to extend a guy who had been a mediocre head coach.
Cakes: Well it’s a campaign of distraction. We talked about it. There were a million things going wrong with the franchise. Was that when the McCloughan upheaval was happening? I’m not sure exactly what was going on, but there was chaos and dysfunction, so they come up with the extension to distract you from that. That’s all that is. Dan Snyder doesn’t care if he has to ax Jay Gruden at the end of the year.
Lurch: Yeah. He’ll just fire him whenever he wants.
Cakes: He doesn’t care about paying him $5-or-$10 million to walk away.
Lurch: But I’ll say this, if the Friday practices were a struggle and they weren’t mentally sharp, that’s on the coaching staff. It’s on the veterans, too, but it’s also on the coaching staff.
EB remained skeptical about how much impact Gruden’s practices are having on the outcome of games.
“I just don’t know what to make of that either, though,” he said. “Aren’t Fridays a lot of walk-through? I don’t quite get that. I mean I’m sure there’s something to it, but I don’t quite get it. But he also said they weren’t good on Tuesday and Wednesday — they were getting gashed. So, I don’t know.”
“It looked like a completely different team than it did the week before, and we were actually healthier, so I just don’t know what to make of it,” he added. “It’s random. I always say this team is random — they’re not good enough to not be random. Nobody in the world thought they were gonna win last week [in Seattle]. A lot of people thought they had a shot this week, and they really didn’t.”
“They were outclassed by a better team,” said Flaim.