What happens when a team fighting for the playoffs meets a team fighting for their careers? The playoff-bound team loses, or course.
I have always believed that the Washington Redskins would split its game with the New York Giants this year. A lot of that is moral imperative. I want the Redskins to cease signing big name players in shortsighted moves to appease shortsighted fans. If this band of no names spoils the Giants' playoff dream, we have real hope that maybe Mike Shanahan gets it right this time.
Getting it right means developing and growing young talent for the resilience that can make the Redskins perennial contenders. We know Shanahan and Bruce Allen can do this. How else do you explain Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Anthony Armstrong, and Joe Joseph?
What would Mike Shanahan do differently if he had a do-over on the preseason? Would he have traded draft picks to Arizona for Anquan Boldin (62 catches, 828 yards, 7 TDs)? Or truly evaluated Rex Grossman in his new offense and used the second round pick to draft QB Colt McCoy (selected in third round by Cleveland), or QB Jimmy Claussen as Vinny Cerrato (ugh) would have done? Or ILB Daryl Washington for the 3-4 defense? Or S Nate Allen, selected by the Eagles with the draft pick received from Washington for Donovan McNabb?
So many things he might have done, instead of the same Snyderrato moves we've seen all this decade (Um, last decade?). No wonder this season ends the same as most have under Dan Snyder's ownership.
Not criticizing Shanahan here. Hindsight is always a cheap shot. But Shanahan's assessment of how the season came to this informs his 2011 decisions.
The Redskins will be active in the free agent market, says Shanahan. He could hardly say otherwise. Washington has too many needs and too few draft picks to plug all the holes. Fortunately, free agent pickings should be better in 2011 than in 2010 when CBA rules were uniquely restrictive.
For this weekend, reserve players get another chance to make their case as starters. And it's a real chance because Shanahan will be more open-minded in his evaluations now than last June. That's the best difference from the 2009 season when no amount of effort would help subs Rock Cartwright and Quinten Ganther stick with the team after the pitiful departure of Jim Zorn.
Redskins' alumnus Ken Harvey made of point of saying that the new batch of Redskins have to be hungrier than this season's group. Giants players say they will not look past the Redskins whom they've beaten eight of the last nine times they've played. They face a team of subs who are hungry with a purpose beyond pride. The Giants have never faced Redskins like these Redskins. That might be enough to upset the Giants by about three points.
CBS New York - Giants-Redskins Preview "So exactly what is the value in the Giants dusting themselves off from the past five quarters during which they lost control of their playoff destiny? Well, it may mean Tom Coughlin’s job."
Giants.com - Back to the Basics ” When they defeated the Redskins, 31-7, on Dec. 5, the Giants ran for 197 yards and each running back scored two touchdowns. Coach Tom Coughlin would like to see production on the ground this week, but knows the Giants must take charge up front to get it."
Redskins.com - Redskins-Giants Marquee Match-ups "Last week, the defense showed progress, allowing just 78 rushing yards on 23 carries, a 3.4 yards-per-carry average, in the 20-17 win over Jacksonville. But that was with Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined due to injury."
NFL.com - No margin for error for Giants "Now, New York must defeat Washington (6-9) and hope the Packers lose at home Sunday to NFC North champion Chicago in a game that starts at the same time. The Bears, however, clinched a first-round bye thanks to Tuesday's surprising victory by Minnesota at Philadelphia and could rest their regulars."
Dan Picca, culturemob.com - Week 17 Preview, New York Giants " Teams can say they are professionals and are able to shake off such demoralization, but they rarely do. Now the Giants are in a must-win situation and even if they prevail, Green Bay controls its own fate. A Packer win at home over the NFC North division-winning Chicago Bears and the Giants are powerless."