EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Heading into the season finale, the Washington Redskins and New York Giants appear to be ready to make major overhauls.
There will be coaching changes of some sort and rosters will be revamped for the 2014 season.
It just goes to show how quickly things change in the NFL. The Redskins (3-12) and the Giants (6-9) are the two most recent winners of the NFC East, with New York winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
The two teams will be playing for pride and jobs Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“We went from 4-12 one year and won the Super Bowl the next year (in St. Louis in 1999), so I’ve been a part of that. But never where we won the division and turned around the next year and played like this,” said Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who has indicated this will be the final game of his 16-year career. “Nobody in here, nobody around the country thought we’d be where we are record-wise, having only won three games.”
The disappointing season might cost Redskins coach Mike Shanahan his job, in large part because of his shaky relationship with franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III, who struggled through an injury-plagued season.
Tom Coughlin of the Giants seemingly is on more secure footing, unless the 67-year-old decides to call it quits. In a season marred by injuries, the Giants have gone 6-3 after losing their first six.
While the Giants have missed the playoffs four times in five years, Coughlin also has led them to Super Bowl wins after the 2007 and ’11 seasons. His passion to succeed is still there.
“Absolutely. I mean, probably even more because there are a lot of those that are telling you that you didn’t do very well and you’re not a very good coach and you’re not this and you’re not that, so perhaps you have something to prove,” he said.
This will be the second meeting between the teams this month. The Giants won 24-17 in Washington and eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention. A week later, the Giants were eliminated in a loss in San Diego.
“From one year to the next it doesn’t mean much, whether you’ve had success or you didn’t,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown an NFL-high 26 interceptions this season. “You can make big turnarounds from year to year. There is just a small difference from being a playoff team and not being one. In that sense, it gives you hope for next year that we can get back to playing better football and make the playoffs.”
Five things to look for as the Redskins and Giants get ready for the offseason:
BYE-BYE LONDON: During his 16-year career, Fletcher has played in all 255 games. He has started the last 214, an NFL record for linebackers. He is one of four players in league history to play in 250 consecutive games. The others are Jeff Feagles, Brett Favre and Jim Marshall. If Fletcher retires, the longest active streak will fall to Manning, who has started the last 150.
RUNNING GAMES: Alfred Morris has 1,213 yards rushing, his second straight 1,200-yard season for the Redskins. Andre Brown leads the Giants with 481 yards rushing despite missing half the season. Who carries for New York on Sunday should be interesting. Brown and backup Peyton Hillis both has concussions the past two weeks, so rookie Michael Cox might have to carry the load.
LEADING RECEIVER: In a season where little has gone right, Pierre Garcon has a chance to lead the league in catches. He has a team-record 107 heading into the game, four more than Andre Johnson of Houston and six more than Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh. Garcon and Brown also have a chance to join Jimmy Smith of Jacksonville (2001) as the only players with at least five receptions per game since the league switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
SACK AND TUCK: Giants defensive end Justin Tuck had a career-high four sacks against RG3 in a span of seven Washington offensive plays earlier this month. The co-captain of the defense has 7 1/2 of his nine sacks in the last five games. He is three shy of his career high of 12 in 2008. This might be Tuck’s final game as a Giant. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season.
METLIFE STADIUM: This will be the final game in the stadium until Feb. 2, when the first cold-weather Super Bowl is held. The championship game has been played in domes in northern cities four times before, but never outdoors. Fan entering the stadium on that day will receive bags with a seat cushion, muffler, ski gaiters, three pairs of hand- and foot-warmers, lip balm and a package of tissues.
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