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Instant Analysis: Season is over, changes are about to begin

A few thoughts after the Giants' season-ending 20-6 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Solitary fans sit in the rain during the second half
Solitary fans sit in the rain during the second half
Ron Antonelli

In truth, the New York Giants' season-ending 20-6 victory over the Washington Redskins Sunday did not teach us anything about the Giants that we didn't already know -- except maybe that Eli Manning is not made of steel and can actually be injured.

Nonetheless, here are some post-game thoughts.

The craziness is just starting. Tom Coughlin refused to answer any questions about his future immediately after the game. The expectation is that he will return, but when it comes to his coaching staff and the more than two-dozen free agents the Giants have nobody knows. It is a safe bet, though, that the 2014 Giants will look much different than this version.

Jerrel Jernigan has made his mark. Jernigan was the best player on the field Sunday. He caught six passes for 90 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass and a 30-yarder. In the second half, when Curtis Painter was struggling behind a down-to-its-last-man offensive line the Giants gave Jernigan the ball via the run twice. On one of those he took an end-around 49 yards for a score, the Giants' longest run of the season. By the way, did anyone notice that Jernigan's second run was a Jet Sweep. Did you ever think you would see Kevin Gilbride call a Jet Sweep?

"He grew into a guy who wanted the ball and did things with it," said head coach Tom Coughlin.

Jernigan caught 19 passes over the final three games and scored three touchdowns, two receiving and one running.

Justin Tuck finished in style. Was this the last time we see Tuck in a Giants' uniform? I hope not. The Giants can use his leadership and his presence. By the way, he is also still a darn good player. He had two sacks and a forced fumble Sunday to finish the year with 11 sacks -- one short of his career high. He had 12 in 2008, when he was named All-Pro.

Don't read too much into 7-3. That is the Giants' record in their final 10 games. That looks nice, sounds nice and makes the players, coaches and organization feel better heading into their fourth playoff-less offseason in five years. Sunday's Giants-Redskins game was an awful NFL football game filled with bad quarterback play, more dropped passes than I could count, injuries and an overall feeling of ineptitude from both teams.

Five of those seven victories came against teams using backup or terrible quarterbacks, including the Philadelphia Eagles (Michael Vick/Matt Barkley), Minnesota Vikings (Josh Freeman), Green Bay Packers (Scott Tolzien), Redskins (Kirk Cousins) and Oakland Raiders (Terrelle Pryor).

Even last week's overtime victory over the Detroit Lions was more about the Lions' inability to get out of their own way and win a game they had in hand than about the Giants.

There is a lot of work to be done to bring the Giants back to championship-caliber. The offensive line needs to be addressed. Running back, tight end and wide receiver need to be upgraded or ironed out. Defensively, the Giants still need more playmakers at linebacker, they need a cornerback and they need to figure out which free agents to keep or move on without.

Kirk Cousins is terrible. So much for the Redskins being able to trade Cousins this offseason and get a high draft pick. After watching Sunday's performance you have to think any team willing to hand Cousins the keys to their franchise is nuts. Cousins went 19-of-49 passing, three two interceptions and had a passer rating of 31.8. The Giants dropped at least three easy interceptions, with Jacquian Williams muffing two and Antrel Rolle dropping a third. Cousins threw seven interceptions in his three season-ending starts.

Curtis Painter is better than David Carr? When the Giants kept Painter instead of David Carr as the backup quarterback there were some eyebrows raised. Let's admit that Painter had little chance with the Giants down to their final five offensive linemen Sunday after injuries to Will Beatty and James Brewer, but he was awful. Painter went 2-of-8 for 25 yards with an interception and two fumbled snaps. Maybe the best thing he did was play so poorly he forced Gilbride to break into his bag of tricks for the end-around that resulted in Jernigan's 49-yard touchdown run.

MetLife mausoleum. MetLife Stadium was half-empty Sunday, despite an announced crowd of 80,000+. I would be surprised if there were 50,000 seats filled. I can't blame anyone who stayed home and watched on TV -- or found something else to do entirely -- instead of sitting in the rain for that.

Hakeem's bad dream.  On what might have been Hakeem Nicks final play as a Giant Eli Manning threw in his direction in the end zone late in the first half. The pass was incomplete, leaving Nicks touchdown-less for the season. Worse, he was called for offensive pass interference. Adding injury to insult -- to a season't worth of indignity -- Nicks came up with a sprained ankle and didn't play again. That isn't exactly a glorious way to exit.