The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.J. Swearinger calls out Redskins’ preparation again, says walk-throughs feel like ‘a joke’

D.J. Swearinger still isn't happy with the Redskins' practice habits. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

In the locker room following the Redskins' Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dallas Cowboys, D.J. Swearinger blamed Washington’s defense, including himself, for the defeat. The safety also said his team didn’t deserve any respect until it started winning “the big games,” and suggested, for at least the fifth time over the last two seasons, that a lack of focus in practice contributed to Washington’s latest defeat.

“Only way you win the big game is you prepare for the big game, and that’s every day,” Swearinger said on Thursday. “That’s got to be in your heart. Like I said, that laughing s---, man, that s--- is for the birds when you’re losing. If you’re losing, if you ain’t no championship team, it 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. But if you’re doing it from the heart, that s--- going to mean something to you when you walk in that building after you lost two games in a row."

Four days later, Swearinger was asked about those comments during his weekly appearance with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. Specifically, Paulsen wanted to know whether Swearinger was frustrated because his teammates weren’t taking Thursday’s loss seriously enough, or because they were too loose in the days leading up to the game.

“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,” Swearinger said. “Whether it’s on Friday or whether it’s the Saturday walk-through. A lot of guys just walk through that Saturday as if that Saturday doesn’t mean much. But truth be told, that Saturday means a lot. If you’re a focused individual, every time that you step on the practice field — whether it’s a walk-through, whether it’s a real practice — any time the coach is saying something, that means business. When we have our walk-throughs on Saturdays, I feel like it’s a joke, to me — with the amount of focus that we have, with the amount of playing that we have, the amount of lack of discipline that we have on those Saturdays and Fridays, on days where I feel like we should be tuned in. That’s where those comments come in."

On Tuesday, Swearinger clarified his remarks in an Instagram post. (The following excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity.)

"For those who don’t understand me,” Swearinger wrote, “my comments have nothing to do with my coaches! My comments are strictly for players! Some brothers may lack focus at times or lose sight of the bigger picture! I say certain things to challenge my brothers! If you not guilty you won’t be offended! But if you guilty then you gonna find a negative and may feel some type of way. It’s never hard feelings with me, it’s a vision to greatness and striving for excellence! Mediocre is never accepted.”

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Swearinger has made similar comments about his teammates before. Repeatedly. After Washington’s loss to the Colts at home in Week 2, Swearinger said there was “complacency in the building” in the days following the Redskins' season-opening win at Arizona.

“We go to practice, there shouldn’t be any f------ joking around,” he said after the Redskins' blowout Monday night loss to the New Orleans Saints three weeks later. “Shouldn’t be any more joking around from nobody. We got blew out. Shouldn’t have any more playing or joking around. When it comes to work tomorrow, we need to be all business.”

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Last year, after a 38-30 loss to the Vikings in which he recorded two interceptions, Swearinger said the team’s practice on Friday “wasn’t good enough.”

“If you practice like bull on Friday, it’s going to show on Sundays, and it happened,” Swearinger told The Team 980′s Doc Walker three days later. " … Hopefully now we can take that step forward and Friday’s practice will be our perfect practice.”

The Redskins didn’t take that step forward, and after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14, Swearinger criticized his team’s preparation habits yet again.

“It’s just blah, blah,” he said. “Okay, we’re out here to practice, blah. We’ve got to practice better. I’ve been saying that all year . . . Y’know, we’re not prepared. It’s all of us: players and coaches. So, we’ve got to be more prepared.”

NFL Network analyst and former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, for one, didn’t approve of Swearinger’s comments following Thursday’s loss to the Cowboys.

“Bad move by DJ Swearinger calling out teammates after game,” Casserly tweeted. “Never criticize your teammates in public . . . Just do YOUR job & let Coaches do the calling. Corrections should be made in private.”

During an appearance on Kevin Sheehan’s podcast on Monday, former Redskin Clinton Portis said he didn’t have a problem with Swearinger’s comments.

“For me, the only thing I have about that is, when you’re addressing a teammate, you have to address that teammate,” Portis said. “You can’t say it as a general statement, because some of the guys that are hustling and giving their all begin to question that . . . I just feel like D.J. should address the player. Say his name, let him know that’s who you’re talking to, but you can do it behind closed doors and whatnot. You can’t leave it on the coaches, because obviously these coaches aren’t those types of coaches that’s in your face or that’s willing to call out guys or push guys to the max."

For what it’s worth, Swearinger told Paulsen and Rouhier that he was indeed planning to address his teammates.

“Moving forward, I’ll address those things, how I feel about that, [Tuesday] with the defensive guys,” Swearinger said Monday. “But moving forward, if we’re gonna win, man, we’ve got to be better in those situations, and it’ll show on Sunday if we are better in those situations."

Meanwhile, the Redskins returned to practice on Monday for the first of five days of on-field preparation, instead of the usual four. Colt McCoy will use that time to familiarize himself with the offense, while the defense will look to get back to basics ahead of an important Monday night game at Philadelphia.

“Repetition is king,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said. “If you don’t get the reps, it’s going to set you back a little bit.”

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