Unlike the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants are a model of consistency
Saturday, December 4, 2010; 10:28 PM
When the New York Giants take the field Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium to face the Washington Redskins, they will be playing for a share of first place in the NFC East. They are, as usual, in the thick of the playoff race.
The Redskins begin December playing for long-shot playoff hopes, professional dignity and next season's jobs. That late-season refrain has become all too familiar to a franchise that has tried desperately since the turn of the century to recapture the Super Bowl glory days of the 1980s and early '90s but has failed to do so, even when it lured former coach Joe Gibbs out of retirement to lead the team a second time.
The discrepancy between the teams' on-field fortunes, between the Giants stability and the Redskins' repeated upheavals, can be easily traced, observers of the two franchises say. The Giants stress organizational continuity, they rely on the NFL draft to bolster their roster and they landed and developed a young franchise quarterback. It's a blueprint the Redskins haven't followed in recent seasons.
"The key thing there is look at the stability," said Charley Casserly, the former general manager of the Redskins and Houston Texans. "You've had two general managers with the Giants. Both of them were draft-oriented, probably [current GM Jerry] Reese even more so than Ernie [Accorsi, Reese's predecessor].
"Both of them really believed in the draft. . . .Even when they changed coaches, there was the same philosophy: strong defensive line, strong running game."
In the 10 seasons from 2000 to 2009, the Giants reached the playoffs six times and played in two Super Bowls - losing one to the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 when they were coached by Jim Fassel and winning one by upsetting the then-unbeaten New England Patriots in 2008 with Tom Coughlin at the helm. Coughlin was hired to replace Fassel following the 2003 season and is in his seventh season as the Giants' coach.
In the same time, the Redskins have been to the playoffs twice - in the 2005 and 2007 seasons under Gibbs. They didn't reach the NFC title game either time. Mike Shanahan, the current, first-year head coach, is the team's sixth in the last 11 seasons, a group that also includes Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Gibbs and Jim Zorn. That doesn't count Terry Robiskie, the team's interim coach during the 2000 season after Turner was fired.
"The Giants changed coaches from Fassel to Coughlin," said Brian Mitchell, the former running back and kick returner who played for both teams. "But you look at it and they build their team for the Giants, not for the coach.
"With the Redskins, every coach has come in and has wanted to change the team. They've even changed the team in the middle, like when Joe Gibbs was here and then [former offensive coordinator] Al Saunders came in and wanted to change things. It's always a different mind-set.
"The Giants are looking to promote from within," Mitchell added. "Their GM, he was promoted from within. The Redskins are always looking for the next big thing, and that guy comes in and changes the whole philosophy."
Building through the draft
Of the 53 players on the Giants' active roster this week, 26 were originally drafted by the team. That doesn't include quarterback Eli Manning, who was drafted first overall in 2004 by the San Diego Chargers but traded the same day to the Giants, who had chosen Philip Rivers fourth overall and sent him to San Diego as part of the deal.
On their 53-man roster this week, the Redskins have 15 players who they originally drafted and have kept throughout their careers.