Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger is looking forward to an upgraded defensive line that will, by consequence, improve the secondary's play.
Assuming you followed the Redskins draft closely two weeks ago, you're likely aware that safety D.J. Swearinger did so as well. In fact, it would have been hard not to see his thoughts on just about every draft pick the team made during the last weekend of April.
Throughout the team's selections, Swearinger was constantly chiming in with his thoughts – reminding fans that he had called the Redskins' first-round pick Daron Payne and expressing his excitement about the additions to the defense.
"Like I talked to him, [Payne's] here to plug up the middle and I'm like, man, that's what we need, we need a guy, a guy down the middle to plug the middle up so the linebackers can float, so everybody can eat," Swearinger said.
As has been notoriously told, the Redskins ranked last in rush defense in 2017, which is why the team bulked up the defensive line in the fifth round with Virginia Tech product Tim Settle, too. This is enticing for the secondary, primarily because as Doug Williams has said, the big guys make the small guys look better.
"It helps us a lot," Swearinger said. "As a safety you don't have to be so quick to trigger to go downhill. You don't got to worry about guys running at you full speed from 10 yards back, especially when you know your D-line and linebackers are going to handle the front. When the guys can look back at me and say you worry about the pass, we got the run, it gives us a lot of confidence to make plays."
Swearinger said he's looking to improve in his second year with the team, "basically trying to make my last season look trash on film and make this defense last year look trash compared to the defense this year." That's a very Swearinger way of dismissing the career year he had on defense, primarily because the team didn't achieve the goals it wanted.
Check out the top photos from safety D.J. Swearinger's 2017 season.
He started all 16 games for the first time in the league, a distinction held by few on the Redskins in 2017, and collected a career high with 79 tackles. He shared the team lead in interceptions with four, including two against the Vikings, and outperformed his previous individual record with 10 passes defensed.
"I think I'm going to be hard on myself anyways, regardless of a win or a loss, you always can improve on something," he said. "Throughout a season, throughout a game, so I'm definitely always going to be hard on myself and always be hard on the guys."
As the vocal captain of the defense, Swearinger said that last year it was his destiny to provide leadership in the secondary, to keep everybody on the same track. He'll carry over those same traits this season, as he plans on building more chemistry with new members of the team during OTAs.
In the meantime, he's enjoying spending downtime with his son, who is about to celebrate his first birthday.
"It was my first year with my son, so it was good seeing him grow up," Swearinger said.