Game preview: Redskins at Giants

Game preview: Redskins at Giants
December 27, 2013, 8:45 am
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Redskins coaches prepare for final game of the season

Redskins Post Game Live

What: Redskins (3-12) at Giants (6-9)

Where: MetLife Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox

Redskins Kickoff on Comcast SportsNet: noon (Redskins Postgame Live immediately following the game) 

Top 5 story lines:

1—In Washington, the game' outcome will be overshadowed by the possibility of sweeping changes following a disappointing season. Those changes could begin with the dismissal Mike Shanahan and his assistants. On Thursday, none of the coaches sounded sure of their status. But they all dropped hints that seemed to indicate they're bracing for bad news. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, in answering one question, said: “I’ll be very surprised if the offense here isn’t a top five offense again next year.”  Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett acknowledged the rumors, saying, “Whatever happens on Monday, Tuesday or whenever that happens …that’s kind of part of it.” The elder Shanahan, meantime, added: “Our job is to win, and if you don’t win, good things don’t happen.” The Redskins are 3-12, have lost seven straight and are 24-39 since Shanahan took over in 2010. 

2—Several longtime Redskins might be donning the burgundy and gold for the final time. We already know that linebacker London Fletcher is “99-percent” sure he’ll hang up the cleats after the season, though he continues to leave open the possibility of resurfacing elsewhere next season. But what about Santana Moss, Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall and Reed Doughty? Moss has been a Redskin since 2005, but he’ll be 35 before next season and, like the others mentioned, is a pending unrestricted free agent. Add to that a potential change of regimes, and a major roster shakeup seems possible, if not likely.

3—Kirk Cousins get his last chance of the season to prove he’s worthy of leading an NFL team next year. Although he's 0-2 since taking over for Robert Griffin III, Cousins has shown flashes of being ready (381 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Falcons). But he's also shown signs that another year as a Griffin’s backup could be necessary (2 of 7 passing on the Redskins’ final two possessions against the Cowboys). Former front office executive Louis Riddick told The Washington Post on Thursday that exchanging Cousins for a first round pick seems unlikely and that even garnering a second rounder would be on the “high end.”

4—Think this game doesn’t matter? Well, it does to one team: the Rams. If the Redskins lose to the Giants and the Texans beat the Titans in Nashville, the Rams could hold the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. That was the pick Washington dealt to St. Louis in the Griffin trade. Houston is 2-13 and Tennessee is 6-9. If the Redskins lose and Texans win, both teams would end up 3-13 but Washington would drop to last due to the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker. Indeed, there will be plenty of scoreboard-watching in St. Louis on Sunday.

5—Once the coaching situation gets sorted out in Washington, the focus will turn to an offseason that figures to feature a lot of turnover. The NFL-mandated $36 million salary cap penalty expires, leaving the Redskins with as much as $20 million in cap space, according to some estimates, and a lengthy list of needs to fill. With apologies to the Cowboys, no team dominates the offseason headlines quite like the Redskins.