As the Redskins defense has struggled to close out the 2018 season, DJ Swearinger has showed glimpses of frustration when talking to the media.
But after Saturday's loss to the Tennessee Titans, the safety didn't just show glimpses of frustration. He openly talked about them, and one late-game decision in particular is what pushed him to do so.
On Tennessee's second-to-last drive, the drive where they eventually took a 19-16 fourth quarter lead, the Redskins had the Titans facing a third-and-7. Backup Blaine Gabbert threw an incomplete pass, but refs whistled Fabian Moreau for defensive holding.
The flag itself was questionable, but that's not what Swearinger was most upset about.
"I feel like we should've been more aggressive," he said. "Playing a backup quarterback, why would you put us in man-to-man?... I think it was a horrible [penalty] call, but I feel like you don't put Fabian in that situation with a backup quarterback."
Swearinger did acknowledge that he and his teammates needed to do more to close out what was a very important contest, but he also continued to second guess Greg Manusky's choice on that play.
"I feel like if we look at the quarterback with all this talent we got in the back end, we would dominate every team every week," he said. "But I'm not the D-coordinator. We didn't make the plays, I guess we didn't make the plays. There were plenty of plays out there to make, so we didn't make the plays to win the game."
As he kept talking, it was clear that this has been eating away at him for quite some time.
"I'm not giving excuses on my play, I've missed a few tackles, but I feel like with a lot of these playmakers we got on the team, you should try to get your players involved," Swearinger said. "We got a lot of talent on this team. When I look at film of other teams, I always see nickels blitzing, I always see safeties blitzing. It's frustrating, I don't know what to say about it."
The loss is going to be a really tough one for this team to process. Once Marcus Mariota got hurt and Gabbert came in, it felt like the Burgundy and Gold had a real chance to secure a road victory and stay in the playoff hunt.
Instead, they leave Tennessee on the wrong side of things and all but eliminated from postseason contention. And Swearinger will leave wondering if the outcome would've been different had the defense's strategy been different on that key sequence.
"In that type of situation, you got a backup quarterback, I wouldn't call man-to-man to make it easy for him," he explained. "He hadn't practiced all week. So, disguise a zone and let him throw the ball right to us. We didn't make the plays we needed to, but when it's crunch time, put us somewhere where we can make a play. Don't put us in man-to-man where it's easy for the quarterback. It's too easy for the quarterback."
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