- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2018

LANDOVER — D.J. Swearinger initially used just one word to describe to the Redskins’ 29-17 loss Friday to the Denver Broncos: poor.

“I can speak for the defense, it was really bad, man,” Swearinger said. “We missed too many tackles. We gave up too many third downs. They ran right up the gut when they wanted it at times. … We’ve got a long way to go.”

It wasn’t just the defense. The Redskins’ starting offense also laid an egg — scoring only three points and going three-and-out on two of their four series. Quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t on the same page as his receivers and there were a number of drops. 

In all, the performance wasn’t the most encouraging for a franchise that has lost four straight season-openers under Jay Gruden. While this was still the preseason, the third game is generally considered “the dress rehearsal.” 

If that’s the case, the Redskins need to burn their clothes.

That being said, Washington isn’t panicking over the one-sided result. Coach Jay Gruden said his intent was to get his starting group out of the game healthy, so mission accomplished.

Smith, who went 3-of-8 for only 33 yards, said his performance was “not where it needed to be.”

“There’ll be some stuff for us to look at and I think get better at,” Smith said. “You expect to go out and execute. I get that we’re not full-strength, we’re not showing everything, but at the same time, you want to go out there and play your best. So we’ll learn from it and get better.”

The starting unit was without wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin), tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson — who will perhaps be the top three go-to options for Smith this fall.

Defensively, the Redskins gave up too many big plays. Broncos quarterback Case Keenum went 12-for-18 for 148 yards. Washington allowed a 24-yard run from rookie running back Royce Freeman and a 27-yard end-around from wideout Emmanuel Sanders — both of which resulted in touchdowns.

The Redskins ranked dead last in run defense last season, and on Friday, they surrendered 149 rushing yards — 67 of which came in the first half when the Broncos‘ starters were in.

Of course, in the preseason, teams don’t run their entire playbook. But defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said Washington couldn’t use that as an excuse.

“We’re definitely going to take a long hard look at this and go from there,” Allen said.

But both Allen and Swearinger said the Redskins were fortunate that this was the preseason and not Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Swearinger wasn’t concerned about Washington’s recent string of losses to begin the season.

“History is history — we always have a chance to beat history,” Swearinger said. “It’s just a wake-up call, for sure. We’ve gotta do whatever … these next two weeks to be sharp, to be more fundamentally sound, tackle better, communicate better.

“We’ve got to be better.”

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