The Washington Redskins made a shocking decision to cut. D.J. Swearinger after Week 16. The move should be part of a larger organizational shift, but it remains to be seen if it is.
After D.J. Swearinger stepped off the field on Saturday, he went on another one of his postgame tirades. Swearinger, tired of losing, elected to criticize the defensive coaching on the final series of the Redskins-Titans game. Per ESPN’s John Keim, here’s some of what 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.
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These comments wouldn’t be particularly bad under normal circumstances. But, throughout the season, Swearinger has made comments about the coaching staff and player performance. He has created some tension by calling out his teammates and coaches, and the issue with Manusky was the final straw. The Redskins released him on Christmas Eve, and he won’t be with the squad moving forward.
While some may not like the decision, in this writer’s opinion, the Redskins are making the right choice. Somehow, some way, they need to make a culture change. While Swearinger seemed like a vocal leader at times throughout the season, the way in which he called out his teammates and coaches got tiresome. He did share the blame occasionally, but the comments he made didn’t solve the team’s problems. It only exacerbated them.
It’s fair to point out that Manusky’s late-game coaching might have left something to be desired. Or, just his coaching in general throughout the year. But make no mistake. This decision to cut Swearinger isn’t about Manusky’s performance. It’s about Swearinger’s attitude.
The Redskins need leaders who lead by example and know how to handle issues. While Swearinger fit the former part of that mold well, the latter part was a problem for him. It has always been in his style to make his thoughts known, but sometimes, it’s better to handle things internally. The Redskins evidently felt this way at the end of what has been a trying season, and they made an example out of Swearinger as a result.
No matter what your opinion on this matter is, it’s clear that the Redskins are trying to have some sort of culture change. They have to do something to fix their team’s attitude and find leaders that fit their vision. Swearinger’s release should be the tip of the iceberg for this culture change. It could be a sweeping one, and it realistically should impact the front office, coaching staff, and players in some way, shape, or form. If they don’t do something to change things, their organization will be marred with the same problems in 2019 that it has had for the past 5-10 years.
This move seems like a step in the right direction, but it will only be constituted as such if the team continues to make moves to change the attitude and culture surrounding their team. If Swearinger is one of the only dominos to fall — and, in essence, becomes the scapegoat — this will be a mistake. But if this is a larger organizational move, fans may look back at this moment as one that helped the Redskins to become a more cohesive team and organization.
But, of course, that requires solid leadership. And it remains to be seen if the Redskins will put the right figures in place to get that done.