It was all good in Washington just a week ago.
Before quarterback Alex Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury, and before back-to-back losses to Houston and Dallas, coach Jay Gruden’s team was 6-3 and in control of the NFC East.
How quickly things have fallen apart. In the span of five days, Washington went from planning on a playoff berth to questioning the commitment of its players.
Shortly after losing 31-23 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, safety D.J. Swearinger aired out some frustrations with the way his defense has been preparing for their opponents.
“We can go out there and do whatever on teams that ain’t good,” Swearinger told the media. “But when we got teams that can play with you, you got to prepare. You got to tackle. You got to do the simple things right. If you don’t do the simple things right, you’re going to get embarrassed on national TV. That’s why we don’t get respect as the Redskins. We don’t do the simple s— right. We do the simple s— right, I guarantee you we get respect. So we don’t [get] no damn respect. I see why we get disrespected because we don’t win the big game. We got to win the big game.”
SWEARINGER'S STRONG WORDS: "We lost the game on defense two weeks in a row… that's why we don't get respect as the Redskins… we don't do the simple sh** right… I see why we get disrespected, cuz we don't win the big game." #HTTR #Redskins @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/l9pGhWuhdk
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) November 23, 2018
Washington has been outscored 54-44 over the last two games. Both were winnable — if not vital — matchups for a team looking to separate itself in a surprisingly-weak division. The Smith injury is certainly going to change how the team plays, but backup Colt McCoy did enough to give Washington a chance in both games he’s appeared in.
Allowing both 40-yard and 90-yard touchdowns to Dallas wideout Amari Cooper all but derailed any chance for a victory on Thursday. And it was enough for Swearinger to dig in on his stance even further.
“The only way you’ve been to the big game is you prepare for the big game, and that’s every day,” Swearinger said. “And that got to be in your heart. Like I said, they’re laughing, man, that s— is for the birds when you’re losing. If you losing, if you ain’t no championship team, man, there ain’t no reason coming in the building and laughing, unless that s— don’t mean that much to you. Unless you’re just doing it for the money.
“But if you’re doing it from the heart, that s— going to mean something to you when you walk into that building after you lost two games in a row. But my mentality is different, so I can only speak to how I feel about it and where we need to go. But it’s disappointing.”
The good news for Washington here is the schedule turns pretty favorable down the stretch. As of Friday, they’ll face just one opponent with a record of .500 or better (Tennessee Titans) in the final five weeks. The bad news is every game from here on out will still be tough. Two matchups against division rival Philadelphia Eagles, one against the New York Giants and one against the Jacksonville Jaguars await.
Which means Washington will have to really dig in if it’s going to pull out a playoff berth. It’s also going to have to take Swearinger’s words to heart. He kept repeating the same message on Thursday night hoping it would register with his teammates.
“Frustrating as hell, man. We’ve lost two games in a row because of this defense.” Swearinger said. “We lost the game on defense two weeks in a row. Defense.”
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