Unthinkable and unforgettable
The Washington Redskins can’t lose to the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in the regular season finale at FedEx Field. They can’t lose. I mean they “can’t” lose. You get it? The Redskins, with a playoff position at stake (pending the outcome of the Sunday night Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game, in which only a tie eliminates Washington), are playing at home against an opponent in the Giants that has absolutely nothing to play for.
This is not a team with nothing to play for but pride, some losing group of players wanting to upset the NFL playoff cart.
The Giants are a team hoping to see the clock strike zero Sunday evening without any damage or destruction as a result of this last game.
So how can the Washington Redskins lose? Seriously.
They can dress this game up all they want as some sort of real football contest, but for the Giants, the only purpose this game serves is that of a preseason preparation game for their playoff opponents. Just ask Giants receiver Victor Cruz.
“I think offensively we just want to, you know, get some things going a little bit, get our offense going, get some rhythm as we go through these games and make sure that we’re sharp for the first week of the playoffs and make sure that we’re clicking kind of on all cylinders,” Cruz told reporters this week .”But we want to go out there and put some drives together, put some points on the board and take it from there.”
That sounds like a preseason game plan to me.
Giants (10-5) coach Ben McAdoo tried his best to make this seem like a game that matters to his team more than it actually does.
He was asked by reporters who would play Sunday — a question not normally asked of a team with something to play for. It’s a preseason question.
“The 53-man roster,” McAdoo replied. “We’ll activate 46 and we’ll go from there. The whole … the starters are going to play. I don’t know any other way to do it.”
Except of course, when it’s the fourth preseason game. Then it seems McAdoo does know another way to do it. Ryan Nassib was the starting quarterback for the Giants in that game. He was the backup quarterback for the Giants until undergoing elbow surgery several weeks ago. You’ll see an oldie — journeyman Josh Johnson — at quarterback for the Giants most of the time Sunday.
How much Josh Johnson? McAdoo was asked how long the starters would play.
“They’re going to play the game,” he answered.
Again, McAdoo was asked if starters would play the entire game, and he responded, “The game, yes, the game.”
Bill Belichick’s mumbling responses are more entertaining.
His own players aren’t buying into this “the game, yes, the game” answer.
Cruz said he “thinks” they are buying in. “We’re going into the game knowing or thinking that we’re all going to play and going in with that mindset and going in with the mindset of defeating a division rivalry and taking it from there,” he said. “I don’t think, you know, at least he [McAdoo] doesn’t want to put it in our heads that, you know, someone is not going to play or whatever the case may be because you just want to keep everybody mentally into the game and making sure that we’re coming in all everything all guns blazing and take it from there.”
His mind must have been elsewhere when Cruz told the Daily News about his team’s Super Bowl plans.
“They (New England Patriots) don’t want to see us,” Cruz said. “I’m sure they don’t want to see us ... for it to be round three, us and them in another epic Super Bowl showdown, it’d be for all the marbles. The third time is when, I mean, they’ll have a lot riding on it, we will have a lot riding on it. It’ll just be one of those moments you (couldn’t) forget.”
First, though, there are the Washington Redskins (8-6-1) on Sunday. Except that’s not first. It’s nothing, meaningless. Whatever happens Sunday will have zero impact on Cruz’s vision of a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl rematch.
Except of course if McAdoo actually plays his starters for any length of time Sunday — and one of them gets hurt. That could impact Cruz’s Super Bowl vision.
If McAdoo needed any reminding of how foolish it would be to play his starter more than a series Sunday, he should just watch a video of Oakland quarterback Derek Carr going down with a broken leg last Saturday — over and over again, in case he has ridiculous notions of protecting the integrity of the game Sunday by playing his starters for any length of time. That would be a fireable offense. The Redskins, on the other hand, as we know, have everything to play for. Coach Jay Gruden tried to play along with McAdoo when he told reporters, “I know they (the Giants) have a very good football team and that’s the important thing. Once they get off the plane and they get out here Sunday afternoon, they’re going to play to win. That’s the only way to play football. And I know Coach McAdoo will have them ready to play, and we have to be ready also.”
Please. If the Washington Redskins lose to the New York Giants Sunday, it would be arguably the worst loss in decades for this franchise.