WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins were touchdown underdogs to the Los Angeles Chargers going into Sunday, but safety D.J. Swearinger didn’t need a bookie to tell him that–he could see it on the practice field.
This is not the first time this season in which Swearinger, who was signed as an offseason free agent but became the team’s defensive captain in Year 1, has called out his organization for going through the motions during the week.
He first raised the issue with the media after the team’s 38-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9. At the time, he said that the team wasn’t practicing well enough on Friday and it cost them the edge.
“Our Friday practice has to be the best practice we have,” Swearinger said on November 12. “If we don’t start that culture here, that our Friday practice has got to be our best practice, your most mentally sharp practice, you’re going to keep losing.”
The situation has not improved in the four weeks since, with Swearinger offering a broader call to action.
“It’s just blah, blah. OK, we’re out here to practice, blah,” he said, visibly irate. “We’ve got to practice better. I’ve been saying that all year.”
Asked if he was surprised to be saying the same thing more than three months into the season, Swearinger shook his head no.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all. If you don’t prepare well, you’re gonna fail. I don’t think we prepared well, with some of the questions that’s being asked right before the game. ‘What’s this right here? What’s this right here?’
“Y’know, we’re not prepared. It’s all of us: players and coaches. So, we’ve got to be more prepared.”
For what it’s worth, this was the first sentiment from head coach Jay Gruden as well, who opened his press conference by embracing the blame.
“I’m at a loss for words really. I never thought we’d get beat like this once, nevertheless twice in a row,” he said. “We weren’t ready to play today. That’s on me. That’s on the staff.”
At this point, the problem seems obvious to the coaches and players, but talk is cheap. With nothing but pride to play for over the next three weeks, it will be interesting to see if Swearinger and Gruden can help instill a new culture at Redskins Park on Tuesday-Friday.