Jay Gruden is either the funniest guy to ever step up to the microphone for the Washington Redskins, or else the coach finally has been infected by his boss, the Prince of Darkness, Redskins president Bruce Allen.
Those are two explanations for something that Gruden blurted out that was buried among all the great stories coming out of training camp in Richmond, but should have left reporters rolling on the floor.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of drama here over the years, in my opinion,” Gruden said. “There’s been a few instances from time to time, but it’s a good group of guys.”
Either this is comedy gold by Slappy Jay, or he has mastered the art of passing off absurdity as truth — the Prince of Darkness’ main talent.
This team ended the 2018 season with one of its defensive leaders, D.J. Swearinger, banished for publicly criticizing the coaches. It has started the 2019 training camp with one of its team leaders, tackle Trent Williams, refusing to report, reportedly because he doesn’t trust the team’s medical staff and wants out.
I don’t know where to begin. Washington continues to find new ways to redefine the “aura of self destruction” that surrounds the franchise.
Let’s pass over the offseason drama of Redskins owner Dan Snyder trying to recruit a new defensive coordinator while Greg Manusky remained on staff, which included interviews with candidates while Manusky reportedly was in the room. That wasn’t drama, I guess.
No, let’s go to the big matzo ball still hanging out there that ended the Redskins’ 2018 season — how Swearinger, one of their best defensive players and team leaders was cut because he couldn’t shut up about the lack of effort by teammates and how bad the coaching was on this team.
What happened to that?
Have Swearinger’s comments after the 31-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last year just evaporated into thin air?
“Laughing … is for the birds when you’re losing,” he said. “If you’re losing … ain’t no reason coming in the building and laughing, unless it don’t mean that much to you, unless you’re just doing it for the money.”
Isolated incident? Swearinger was just getting started.
On his follow-up appearance on 106.7 The Fan, Swearinger went off on the team’s laid back preparation before games.
“I just feel like when we’re in certain preparations — when it’s Friday, when it’s Saturday, when it’s time to lock in and really be focused in — I feel like it’s a little bit too much playing.”
A little drama, maybe?
Hang on. This would be a three-act play before the curtain came down.
A week later, after a 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Swearinger called out the coaches. “It’s not just the players, man,” he said. “It takes coaches and players. The players, we locked in last week. We felt like we was locked in, especially on the defensive side off the ball. But it takes players and coaches … It’s not just the players.”
Three weeks later, Swearinger went off on Gruden’s staff again after a 25-16 loss to Tennessee.
“When we’re in the game at the end of the game, I feel like we should be in something that we can (pressure) the quarterback,” he said, second-guessing the sideline’s defensive calls. “(Pressure) the quarterback and make plays.”
Shortly after, Swearinger was released.
Washington was Swearinger’s fourth team in five years when he signed here as a free agent in 2017 (he signed with Arizona, one of his former teams, after being cut by the Redskins). So it’s reasonable to assume he has a way of wearing out his welcome. He may be a major league malcontent. But that doesn’t mean he was wrong.
How can a defense be so fractured that one of its leaders felt compelled to destroy the coaching staff publicly?
No drama, Gruden says. Everything’s fine.
Swearinger’s been replaced with high-priced safety Landon Collins. A few coaches were replaced. It’s like D.J. Swearinger never happened.
“Oh man, we smashing this year,” cornerback Josh Norman told reporters in Richmond. “I think just the pinnacle of rising up from what we built from four years to now. Oh man we cooking, we really are.”
See? No drama.
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.