- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2018

LANDOVER — D.J. Swearinger has never been shy about calling out his teammates. The Redskins safety has done so in the past, questioning their preparation in practice.

But when asked about the team’s freefall in stopping the run, Swearinger made his thoughts clear after Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the New York Giants: Don’t blame the players.

The Giants rushed for 227 yards on 34 carries against the Redskins on Sunday and it was the latest instance of a team gashing Washington on the ground. New York running back Saquon Barkley, in particular, couldn’t be stopped — piling up 170 yards on only 14 carries.

It may seem hard to believe now, but Washington ranked first in run defense earlier this season.

“You can’t say it’s the players, man because we the same players,” Swearinger said. “We’re the same guys. We’re putting in the same work. Defense, we’re practicing hard. … From a players’ standpoint, we’re practicing, bro. Like I say, I can’t give you no answers to that because I’m not the coaches.”

Swearinger, however, declined to comment when told Gruden said the loss wasn’t a reflection of the team’s preparation throughout the week.

Asked what’s the biggest thing that needs to change, Swearinger hinted at his past comments about Washingtons’ effort in practices.

“I mean, I’ve said that for two years now,” Swearinger said. “Obviously, they ain’t listen. I can’t tell ya what needs to be changed. I mean I’m not the coach.”

Swearinger, in particular, has criticized the team’s attitude toward Friday and Saturday practices. Gruden has downplayed those remarks in the past, and he recently reiterated that he would prefer the safety keep his comments in-house.

But there could be a disconnect between the team’s approach and what Swearinger wants.

On Nov. 29, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the Redskins try to have fun when participating in a walkthrough.

“I think playing 12 years in the National Football League, you have to have some humor you know what I’m saying,” Manusky said, referencing his career as a linebacker. “We had the walkthroughs last week. It was a short week having about an hour of a walkthrough or 50 minutes, it takes a little bit of a toll. Their concentration level is not going to be focused for 50 minutes.

“But overall, we try to have a little bit of fun doing it. We go through our situational football and try to talk through it and work the plays that we think we’re going to get.”

Washington’s defense has seriously regressed since November and the team has now lost five of its last six. The Redskins gave up 402 yards to the Giants.

Despite the skid, Gruden said Sunday he doesn’t anticipate any changes coming to his coaching staff.

Swearinger said there’s no reason “we should be losing like this,” listing off the talent on the Redskins. The 27-year-old added that he feels the defense is one of the most talented units he has been on.

Swearinger then said he’s been on talented teams that have finished 2-14 and lesser-talented groups that made the playoffs.

So what’s the difference?

“The difference is the chemistry,” Swearinger said. “The chemistry — you know, I can’t say much more than that.”

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