Whatever happened — or didn’t happen — during Friday’s practice, the Redskins’ last before Sunday’s 38-30 loss to the Vikings, it had an impact on at least two Washington defenders.
Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger, who had two picks in the loss, pointed directly to Friday’s practice, during his post-game remarks, as setting the wrong tone for the defense going into Sunday’s game.
Swearinger: Our Friday Practice Wasn’t Good Enough
“Our Friday practice wasn’t good enough,” Swearinger 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. 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,” he said. “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. 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.”
Swearinger wasn’t the only one taking note of Friday’s practice. Preston Smith, too, wished he could have that practice back.
“Friday’s a practice, we’ve got to move fast,” Smith said. “We’ve got to execute our assignments and make sure there’s no mistakes, because it’s the last real practice we have before the game, besides the walk-through. We’ve got to go out there and execute on Fridays.”
“Friday’s practice, it could have been a whole lot better this week,” he said. “We can’t get it back. That week is gone and that Friday practice is gone, and we’ve just got to make sure this Friday’s practice, we execute and we go out there and play to the best of our ability.”
The Sports Junkies Monday attempted to identify who Swearinger might have been directing his comments toward, if it was any one person.
“I just don’t know how I can blame Jay yesterday for the defense giving up 38 points,” Eric Bickel said. “Maybe D.J. Swearinger is, in his comments. Or maybe he’s pointing it at [defensive coordinator Greg] Manusky. I don’t know.”
Matt Valdez, their producer, proffered his own guess: “What about other players? Because if [Josh] Norman says practice was fine, and then…”
“Well, I think there was another player that actually backed up Swearinger,” Bickel said.
“Yeah. It was Preston Smith. Preston Smith backed up Swearinger,” Valdez said. “And then Norman said practice was fine. Norman got burned on a double move Sunday, and gave up the go-ahead touchdown in Seattle. I don’t know. It sounds like Swearinger’s kind of pointing the finger at Norman, if you try to connect the dots.”
Here’s what Norman had to say after the game, with regards to last week’s practice: “Just coming out here and we just didn’t have it today. We really didn’t. We wasn’t on, and I don’t know what it was — it was something that was going around, I guess. We just wasn’t on, and that’s what sucks the most. Coming out here, we had a good week of practice. Solid week of practice. Guys knew it, came in here and doing. We just didn’t execute.”
If there is a there there, perhaps it lies somewhere in the middle, between Norman’s perception that the Redskins had a “solid week” of practice, and Swearinger feeling like their last practice of the week “wasn’t good enough.” At the risk of over-parsing, at the very least, it seems like those drastically different characterizations are telling in some way.
Maybe Norman was simply covering for his teammates. Or maybe there’s been a lack of intensity in several Friday practices, and Swearinger is citing Sunday’s defeat as the perfect example to call attention to it. Either way, some players appeared to have an issue with Friday’s practice. And Swearinger has made a point of making a point of it: “I try to say it all the time, but you can’t just say it, you gotta do it.”