New York defeated Washington in both matchups between the two teams in the 2019 season. Riding the momentum of the Week 3 last-second victory against Tampa Bay, the Giants handily defeated the Redskins the following week, 24-3, as Daniel Jones threw for 225 yards to lead the Giants to a win.
It is worth noting though that the second game between these two teams in Week 16 was a much different story. The Giants won, 41-35, but the game went into overtime and was a more high-scoring battle on both sides. Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. did not start in the first game against the Giants. Instead, he only came in the game when Case Keenum went down with an injury. Haskins was not yet the Redskins’ designated starter and Jay Gruden was still around as head coach.
The Week 16 contest was a quarterbacks’ duel as Jones and Haskins matched each other throw for throw until Haskins was injured at the start of the second half. If he had stayed in, that game might have ended differently.
So what can the Giants expect from the rebuilding Redskins in 2020?
Key Losses: TE Vernon Davis, OT Trent Williams, CB Josh Norman, CB Kayvon Webster, S Montae Nicholson, CB Breon Borders, CB Dee Delaney
Key free agent signings: QB Kyle Allen, DB Kendall Fuller, B Adrian Peterson, OL Brandon Scherff, LB Jon Bostic, DT Caleb Brantley, S Sean Davis, TE Logan Thomas, LB Nate Orchard, LB Thomas Davis, WR Cody Latimer, TE Richard Rogers, CB Aaron Colvin, RB J.D McKissic
Draft picks: DE Chase Young, RB/WR Antonio Gibson, OT Saahdiq Charles, WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, G/C Keith Ismael, LB Khaleke Hudson, S Kamren Curl, Edge James Smith-Williams
After last season, it’s easy to count the NFC East, as an entire division, out. Though the Eagles managed to squeak their way into the playoffs, and the Cowboys showed promise in games that didn’t matter, the Giants and Redskins only strung together seven combined wins. Their Week 16 matchup last season was better known as the Chase Young Sweepstakes.
Both teams have tried to reinvent themselves this offseason though, starting with the head coaches. Ron Rivera brings a disciplined, player-centered culture to Washington that is no-nonsense and focused. The release of Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, albeit dragged out, speaks to that focus. Drama had surrounded Washington for too long during the Bruce Allen era and this offseason has allowed them to recreate, or perhaps rediscover, their identity.
And the Redskins sent a clear sign to any doubters that Haskins plays a major role in that identity when they signed former Carolina Panthers QB Kyle Allen. That signing signaled to Haskins that the QB job is his to lose. No more of the nonsense Tua Tagovialoa rumors. This team will be built around Haskins, who showed increasing flashes of promises as the 2019 season went on. The combination of Haskins and wide receiver Terry McLaurin proved to be a pleasant surprise that Washington hopes to cultivate this year.
Other notable free agent signings include DB Kendall Fuller, fresh off his Super Bowl victory with the Kansas City Chiefs, and safety Sean Davis. Fuller brings “positional flexibility” to Washington - something that Rivera preaches and will serve as a much-needed corner in the slot. Meanwhile, Davis played on some of the stingiest Steelers’ defenses in recent years and promises to add depth to the safety position as he competes for a starting spot.
Of course, the biggest addition to the Redskins defense is Chase Young. The star out of Ohio State will make an immediate impact to the Redskins’ defense alongside Montez Sweat. The former nation’s leader in sacks will pose a daunting threat to opposing offenses.
As far as the rest of the draft, Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden show the potential to be difference-makers on offense. Both are small-school products who bring a chip on their shoulder to the NFL. At Memphis, Gibson showed his versatility by playing running back and wide receiver, At Liberty, Gandy-Golden broke receiving records. Gibson will join Adrian Peterson and J.D. McKissic at the running back position while Gandy-Golden will hope to strengthen a receiving corps that was limited to mostly McLaurin last season.
Offensive tackle Shaadiq Charles out of LSU will attempt to replace Williams. Charles enjoyed a successful career with the Tigers, but had some off-the-field problems that make him a bit of a wild card. Either way, the Redskins are used to an offensive line without Williams because the Pro Bowler did not play at all last season. Charles is the first of what will probably be many steps in filling Williams’ absence.
With all of this in mind, is Washington a stronger team heading into the 2020 season? I think yes. They are definitely not weaker. But they have a long way to climb in order to improve upon last season’s 3-13 record. They finished second-to-last in the league in yards per games with 274.7 and dead last in the league in total points scored on the year with 266. They scored less than 20 points 11 times last season and were held to less than 10 points in five games.
The Giants did not break the scoreboard, either, but even they managed 341 total points last season.
Ultimately I think that, like last season, the Giants and Redskins will be on a similar level. Haskins might hit more of his stride, connect with better offensive weapons and Young might ignite the Redskins defense. But I think that similar things can be said about New York. Jones knows more now than he did a year ago and he is no longer under Eli Manning’s shadow. The Giants have the young Darius Slayton and they added Andrew Thomas to the o-line to give Jones better protection.
I predict that the Giants will wins these games because the toughness of their schedule makes these must-win contests. Whereas the Redskins do not have as difficult a schedule. But both games will be close matchups as both developing teams try to find their footing on the field again in 2020.