Redskins digest another disappointing season without playoffs
NASHVILLE For nearly 45 minutes after Saturdays 25-16 loss to the Tennesee Titans, Josh Norman sat on his stool in Washingtons locker room with his grass-stained uniform still on and with his head buried in his hands. The Redskins cornerback barely moved.
Throughout that time, Ryan Kerrigan described how the defeat was one of his toughest in his career. Mason Foster was also stunned, staring off into the distance before composing himself to speak to reporters. An angry D.J. Swearinger ripped defensive coordinator Greg Manusky blasting the teams defensive playcalling late that ultimately saw the Titans recapture a 19-16 lead.
Despite the passion in the locker room, the effort on the field wasnt enough.
Washington still has one game left a Week 17 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles but the season all but ended Saturday with another disappointing, frustrating loss.
And on Sunday, the Redskins were officially eliminated from the playoffs as the Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings both came away with victories.
It is a tough pill to swallow because I know we have a very talented team here, coach Jay Gruden said, and I feel like I didnt get enough out of them to get us in a position to advance to the playoffs.
Asked why he feels that way, Gruden said he felt like the Redskins had the skill on defense and on offense to be better. He said the Redskins had every opportunity to win against the Titans, but a different call here by me ... or something a little bit different, maybe I could have gotten a little bit more out of them.
Instead, the Redskins will miss the postseason for the fourth time in Grudens five years at the helm. It remains to be seen if the team will part ways with Gruden, though another injury-filled season could give Washington a reason to have him return.
Running back Adrian Peterson said Gruden has done and said all the right things.
Great leadership, Peterson said. I tip my hat to Coach Gruden, he is a heck of a coach. He helped us throughout this whole year, just reminding us to stay focused on our goals that were trying to accomplish. I tip my hat to him.
Moving forward, the Redskins have other pressing problems, whether Gruden is brought back or not.
This offseason, Washington will need to determine what to do at quarterback, given Alex Smith likely wont be ready in time for the start of 2019 while he recovers from a broken leg. The Redskins also dont have a ton of cap room as Over The Cap, a website devoted to NFL contracts, projects the team to have only $16.28 million to spend (assuming the leagues salary cap is set at $190 million).
Teams, of course, can get out of contracts, but that brings up more questions. Will the Redskins part ways with Norman, who only has $6 million in dead money after this season? Will they cut Swearinger ($1.3 million in dead money) or linebacker Zach Brown ($3 million in dead money)?
Swearinger, in particular, appears to be wearing out his welcome.
Gruden said Sunday he was quite disappointed with the safetys open criticism of the coaches, adding hes still determining if Swearinger will face discipline.
The Redskins, Gruden said, havent punished Swearinger in the past for making a controversial statement after a loss.
This time was different, however, as Swearinger directly questioned the teams decision to play man-to-man coverage and not being aggressive enough against Blaine Gabbert, the Titans backup who replaced an injured Marcus Mariota.
Im a very smart football player, Swearinger said. I probably watch more film than the coaches. ... I try to give my insight but you know it doesnt work, so, I can only put my heart in this [crap], dog. Put my heart in this [crap] and give them what I can give them. Whether they take it or not thats another thing. Thats where the frustration comes in.
Gruden said he wants to meet with Swearinger, though it was obvious the coach was losing his patience.
I dont know if he really understands that what hes doing is not helpful one bit, Gruden said. It is a distraction.
Gruden added later that the last thing he wants is a torn locker room or for players to point fingers after a loss. He added Swearinger didnt speak for the entire defense, and hours after the game, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen tweeted his support for Manusky.
Still, the Redskins were 6-3 through 10 weeks into the season with a sizeable lead in the NFC. As they spiraled downward, players frustrations came to light from Swearinger to Zach Brown unhappy with his role to Fosters leaked Instagram conversation.
The Redskins were challenged repeatedly throughout the year. Heading into Week 17, they have 21 players on injured reserve. To overcome those losses, they needed to be near-perfect.
But the Redskins werent. Now, theyre left to digest another season without the playoffs.
As the players departed the locker room Saturday, Norman was the last one there still staring toward his stall.