EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Washington Redskins had better take one last look at the New York Giants because this is a team that is going to look a lot different next season.
There is going to be a new coach, possibly a quarterback other than Eli Manning, and definitely a ton of new faces on the roster after a wreck of a season when many felt the Giants would challenge for another Super Bowl.
Some of the change has already started. Former Panthers executive Dave Gettleman, who spent 15 seasons with the Giants, was hired as general manager on Thursday, replacing the fired Jerry Reese.
The Redskins (7-8) will try to finish their third straight campaign with a .500 record or better when they face the reeling Giants (2-13) on Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The only thing the teams have in common will be missing the playoffs. The Redskins have made it once (2015) under coach Jay Gruden, and three times since 2007. The Giants have gone to the postseason once (2016) since winning the NFL title after the 2011 season.
“First and foremost, we want to go out and win,” said Giants punter Brad Wing, one of the many who had a subpar season. “I also think guys are aware it is going to be very different next year and there will be a lot of changes made.”
After 14 seasons, Manning is facing an uncertain future for the first time, especially if the Giants use a high draft pick to take a quarterback. With the firing of second-year coach Ben McAdoo along with Reese on Dec. 4, there will be a new coaching staff.
“We’re chasing the feeling of what it feels like to be in the locker room after a win and all that goes into all that,” said Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo, who is 0-3 since taking over. “That’s what we are chasing. Hopefully we can get there.”
The Redskins also disappointed. They just missed the playoffs in 2016, but never got close this year. Their goal eventually changed from the playoffs to a .500 or bust motto.
“Well, if we lose it, it ruins my next two weeks. I want to enjoy those two weeks,” said quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose future also is uncertain. “I haven’t been a part of a season yet where we won the last game. We made the playoffs (then) we lost. Then we went 3-13, 4-12 and last year lost in the last game. So I want to walk away from a season with a win.”
Here’ssome things to watch Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
SHREDDED SECONDARY: The Giants lost Pro Bowl strong safety Landon Collins with a broken arm last weekend and they suspended cornerback Eli Apple for conduct detrimental to the team Wednesday. The only starter left from opening day is safety Darian Thompson. Brandon Dixon, who started at cornerback last week, was unemployed for the first month, then spent six weeks on the practice squad before being added to the roster in early December. Cornerback Russ Cockrell moved into the starting lineup halfway through the season and had his first two interceptions last week. Safety Andrew Adams has three starts this year.
PLAYMAKER IN TRAINING: At least that is what the Redskins hope is happening with receiver Josh Doctson, their first-round pick in 2016. The 6-foot-3 target has flashed the red-zone skills that made an intriguing prospect coming out of TCU. Showing the needed ability to become the team’s No. 1 receiver is the next step. Doctson caught two of 13 targets in the Week 15 win over Denver, though one went for a 48-yard touchdown.
WEBB’S TIME: After being inactive for the first 15 games, Giants rookie quarterback Davis Webb is going to get a jersey Sunday and be Manning’s backup. Spagnuolo is not guaranteeing Webb gets to play, saying the goal is to win. However, if the game gets out of hand, expect the third-round draft choice from California to play.
LAST CHANCE FOR ROMANCE?: Cousins will make his 48th consecutive start for the Redskins. It could be his last depending on which path his seemingly never-ending free agent saga takes this offseason. Gruden is clear on what he desires.
“I’ve been working with him for a long time now and we’ve put a lot of time and a lot of work together with one another trying to get him better, and he’s made me better. So that’s worked out very well. Of course, he knows that we want him back, but at the end of the day, like I said, agents, everybody gets involved and he’s got to make a decision for himself.”
TACKLING THE LINEBACKERS: The revolving door at inside linebacker for Washington probably continues. Leading tackler Zach Brown (Achilles tendon, knee) likely misses the second game against the Giants while Martrell Spaight (illness, ankle) is uncertain. Despite the injuries, Gruden said the communication held up against the Broncos because of Zach Vigil, who joined the team last month. He had 12 solo tackles, two assisted and did a great job of communicating the calls to the defense.