LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Chase Young and Montez Sweat sat side-by-side on folding chairs in Washington's locker room Sunday, whispering to each other as reporters gathered nearby after the Commanders' latest loss, 38-31 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
With the trade deadline approaching Tuesday, and plenty of speculation about whether Washington (3-5) could trade one or the other — or both — edge rushers, Young and Sweat were aware this might have been their last game as teammates after coming into the NFL as first-round draft picks in consecutive years.
“That thought goes across your mind,” Sweat said. “It definitely would be a detriment to split us up. ... It’s in the air, but at the end of the day, we have a game to play, we have a job to do.”
It would make sense for coach Ron Rivera and the Commanders to be sellers, given that they have lost five of their past six games and dropped to 0-3 in the NFC East at roughly the season’s midpoint.
Rivera refused to weigh in when asked about the possibility of making any swaps, saying: “I’m not going to talk about personnel.”
Young and Sweat both spoke about the idea of getting dealt being out of their control. Both spoke about having a bond. Neither spoke about really wanting to remain in Washington.
“That’s my brother, man. ... We’re rocking for life,” Young said. “That’s not going to change if we’re not on the same team.”
There were plenty of things that went awry for Washington, which managed to score 31 points in each of its games against Philadelphia this month — and also managed to lose each time.
On Sunday, usually reliable receiver Terry McLaurin dropped passes on consecutive plays late in the fourth quarter.
“Those are tough plays that I have to make,” McLaurin said. “When you’ve got a young quarterback, you’ve got to find a way to make those plays. So I definitely own that and take accountability.”
Rivera failed to challenge a fourth-down catch by DeVonta Smith in the third quarter that was soon followed by one of Jalen Hurts’ four touchdown passes; the coach said afterward no one on his staff got a chance to see a replay before the Eagles quickly snapped the ball for the next play. Somehow, rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes was put in position to get burned by A.J. Brown yet again. An apparent catch by Washington’s Jahan Dotson was changed to incomplete by New York, according to Rivera.
"What is considered a catch in the NFL, asking for a friend ..?" Dotson wrote on social media.
Yes, all of those factors contributed to yet another defeat for Rivera & Co., despite a career day from Sam Howell.
The second-year player was 39 of 52 for 397 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, just one sack after entering the day with 40 for the season, and a franchise-record 24 completions in the first half while taking a 17-10 lead into the break. (That lead also included a franchise-record 61-yard field goal by Joey Slye.)
“There’s enough potential in that locker room,” Rivera said, “to be a better football team.”
He and his current roster of players might not get the chance to find out if that actually is true.
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