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D.J. Swearinger: ‘Not your old Redskins that you can laugh at’

September 24, 2018

LANDOVER D.J. Swearinger wants the world to take notice: the Redskins aren’t here to play games.

“It’s not your old Redskins that you can laugh at,” the safety said. “We’re here to win.”

The Redskins’ defense put on a show in Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Green Bay Packers, sacking quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and holding their offense to a season-low in points. Rodgers threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, but he had 44 attempts.

After quietly flying under the radar last season as one of the league’s top units finishing 11th in defensive DVOA, a metric that measures efficiency the Redskins had the type of performance needed to put themselves in the upper echelon of the league.

Or in simpler words, call it a statement win.

The Redskins’ glaring weakness last season was their interior play along the defensive line. On Sunday, the trio of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis wreaked havoc up the middle.

By generating a consistent pass rush, the Redskins could pressure with just four defenders sending the other seven in coverage to make it difficult for Rodgers to find receivers.

Washington also rebounded from last week’s 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, in which the defense was picked apart by short passes and plagued by miscommunication.

Swearinger said the defense knew Rodgers wanted to “embarrass” the Redskins further and added the team had a great week of practice.

The Redskins’ pass rush made the afternoon difficult for Rodgers, who missed multiple days of practice while trying to recover from the knee injury he suffered in Week 1. Asked if he felt better physically compared to last week, Rodgers said, “Nope.”

“We just accepted the challenge and we came out and performed today,” Swearinger said.

Swearinger had said he saw “complacency” in the Redskins’ Week 2 loss to the Colts. Sunday’s effort was much better.

There were times when Rodgers looked poised to lead the Packers to a comeback, like he had done so many times before. Entering the game, the 34-year-old quarterback had 12 fourth-quarter comebacks one of which happened this season when he rallied his team past the Chicago Bears in Week 1.

The generous number of Packers fans in the stands at FedEx Field grew increasingly louder as Green Bay started to gain momentum. To open the second half, the Packers had a lengthy seven-minute drive spanning 75 yards that resulted in a touchdown pass to Davante Adams.

But the Redskins maintained their composure. Despite being on the field for the majority of the second half, the Redskins defense didn’t appear to be bothered by fatigue.

After Green Bay’s touchdown in the third quarter, the Redskins forced two punts, two turnovers on downs and a fumble.

Washington, too, had contributions from its stable of young talent. Allen, who had two sacks, is in his second year. Payne, drafted 13th overall, recorded his first sack. Second-year cornerback Fabian Moreau produced the game-sealing turnover by stripping receiver Randall Cobb.

“I think we’re going to get better,” coach Jay Gruden said. “I feel like we’ve got good players, number one. Coach [Greg] Manusky and the defensive staff is doing a good job with these guys teaching them ... We got a chance to be pretty good.”

The unit’s most glaring mistake occurred in the second quarter, when Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison ran a slant-and-go route, burning cornerback Josh Norman and Swearinger en route to a wide-open 64-yard touchdown.

But as soon as the game was over, Norman chased down Rodgers on the field dying to know exactly what happened.

The cornerback had a theory and explained it to Rodgers: the Packers specifically saw something on film that could be exploited.

“He winked at me, and I was like, ’OK, I got you,” Norman said. “So you know, he winked. [But] I got the game. I’ll take it.”

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