John KeimESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
- Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns
Saturday was different.
Swearinger ripped into defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after the Redskins’ 25-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans for what he termed bad playcalling.
The Redskins were in man coverage when corner Fabian Moreau was called for holding against receiver Taywan Taylor on a third-and-7 incompletion, extending a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. The Titans had three receivers on the right side with Taylor on the left.
“Man, it’s three by one; you’re going backside every time,” Swearinger said. “A kindergarten quarterback can know that. That’s my frustration right now, dog. We played a hell of a game.”
The Redskins sent five rushers with man coverage on the back end. Moreau had his hands too high on the play, grabbing Taylor high on his back.
“We should have blowed them out,” Swearinger said. “If I’m the D-coordinator, I’m calling zone every time on third down because you got a backup quarterback. Make him beat us.
“We’re playing a backup quarterback. Why would you put us in man to man? We are our best on defense when we look at the quarterback.”
Swearinger has voiced his frustration several times this season, as well as after games in 2017. He has criticized the team’s preparation, though he hasn’t said whether his words were aimed at the players or coaches; he often said it was for everyone. Swearinger also said some Friday practices were too loose.
“You don’t put Fabian in that situation on a backup quarterback,” Swearinger said. “Regardless of the [officials’] call, yeah, the ball was overthrown. But if we look at the quarterback, with all this talent we got in the back end, we could dominate every team every week. But I’m not the D-coordinator, bruh. We didn’t make the plays, I guess. There were plenty of plays out there to make, so we didn’t make the plays to win the game.”
A team official said Manusky would not address Swearinger’s comments until his regularly scheduled news conference Thursday. Redskins coach Jay Gruden had finished his news conference before Swearinger spoke. Swearinger was the last player to address the media, so other players did not have a chance to respond to his comments.
Swearinger said defensive playcalling has frustrated him for a while.
“I voice my frustration every single time I come off the field,” he said. “I’m a very smart football player. I probably watch more film than the coaches. That’s 100. That’s probably documented. I try to give my insight, but it doesn’t work. So I can only put my heart in this s—, dog … and give them what I can give them. Whether they take it or not, that’s another thing. That’s where the frustration comes in at, when we don’t win.”
Swearinger is under contract for one more season. Gruden has talked to him in the past after some of the comments he made either to reporters or on social media. The Redskins have never suspended him for his comments. Gruden is scheduled to address the media Sunday.
“I’m not giving no excuses on my play,” Swearinger said. “I missed a few tackles, but I feel with a lot of these playmakers we have on this team, you should try to get your players involved. We got a lot of talent on this team. When I look at film on other teams, I always see nickel [defensive backs] blitzing, always see safeties blitzing.
“It’s frustrating. I don’t know what to say about it. With the playmakers we got on defense, there’s no way we should have lost this game. We was the better team. We could have been in a better call on that third down. Just being 100.”
Gabbert completed 7 of 11 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. On the Titans’ go-ahead touchdown drive, Gabbert completed a 35-yard pass to Taylor, who was facing man coverage by Moreau. He also completed a 2-yarder to tight end MyCole Pruitt on a play-action pass.
“We aren’t supposed to lose this game, with the talent we have on defense, to a backup quarterback,” Swearinger said. “You can say we didn’t make the plays as players. Yeah, we didn’t make enough. But when we’re in the game at the end we should be in something that we can see the quarterback, man. See the quarterback. And make plays. We weren’t able to see the quarterback but on a couple times. It is what it is. Keep grinding.”
The Redskins (7-8) remain alive in the playoff race but would be eliminated by an Eagles win or if Minnesota and Seattle win Sunday.