WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins might not have much to play for on Sunday but at least they can stand united, across from a team in alarming turmoil.
Coming off of an 11-5 season in 2016, they were ready to take the next step. That next step was a disaster.
As a quick refresher, here are the New York Giants’ 2017 lowlights:
- Lost the first five games and got off to a 1-8 start
- Odell Beckham Jr. suffers fractured ankle
- Quarterback Eli Manning benched for journeyman Geno Smith
- Head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese fired midseason
- Manning reinstated as starter after snapping NFL-leading consecutive starts streak
- Internal problems with former first-round cornerback Eli Apple go public
How the Giants restart the front office, restock the coaching staff, and handle the awkward situation with Manning is all offseason fodder in the Meadowlands.
But the Apple situation is about as combustible as it gets, and it has been a long time coming.
Apple is widely reported to have clashed with coaches and teammates both in the locker room and on the playing field. Things finally boiled over when teammate Landon Collins dragged him in the media this week, bringing everything public.
Collins spoke with the coaching staff and publicly apologized to Apple. When it came time for Apple to respond, he blew off the media with a crude remark. The team subsequently suspended him for the last game of the season for “a pattern of conduct detrimental to the team.”
In Washington, Gruden can’t be happy with just flirting with .500, but he also realizes that it could be much worse.
“We’ve had our share from time to time with squabbles. but we have a very strong room in there and they have handled it within the group, which is good,” he told the media on Thursday. “I’ve hardly ever had to go down there and step in there and address the team about certain issues because we have a strong group down there.
“They can handle it themselves. You always want that as a head coach; don’t want to have to be putting out fires every single day.”
Part of what makes the 2017 season different for the Redskins is that they’ve been there before, recently. At the end of the Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III eras in Washington, contradicting leaked reports would surface in the media multiple times each week.
Gruden and the front office have managed to cultivate a culture that handles most of its beef on the farm.
“Every year is different, though, every player is different and they handle it differently,” Gruden said. “It’s unfortunate what they’re going through, but we’re fortunate that we don’t have to go through it.