EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Instead of meeting in the regular-season finale for a playoff berth, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are facing the consequences of missing the playoffs again.
Chief executive officer Jeffrey Lurie didn’t wait for the season to end to start the Eagles’ transition after missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Coach Chip Kelly was fired Tuesday after three seasons, the first of which ended with an NFC East title.
Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch have not indicated what’s going to happen with Tom Coughlin. New York has not made the playoffs since 2011, and this year will finish with a third straight losing season. It’s the longest seasonal losing streak for one of the NFL originals since missing 17 straight seasons (1964-80).
What makes this decision so hard for the owners is that the 69-year-old Coughlin has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles in his 12 seasons, and he is well liked.
However, the Giants had several chances to take control in the NFC East this season and squandered them. They lost six games either in overtime or in the final 1:14 of regulation and they have faltered in the home stretch, losing five of six games.
Both teams enter the final game Sunday at MetLife Stadium with 6-9 records. The winner finishes in second place in the division. The loser gets a trip to London in 2016 for a game against the Rams.
“To be honest, this is the 16th game of the season and that’s where I’m focused,” Coughlin said. ” I won’t let myself go in those other directions because we have a job to do, and that’s what we’re going to do. All these other issues will clear up in time, but not before then.”
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was elevated to Eagles interim coach and will be in charge Sunday. He was the Cleveland Browns’ coach in 2011-12.
“The future is uncertain right now,” Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford said. “We play the Giants on Sunday and that’s all that I’m focused on, that’s all everyone in this locker room is focused on.
“And then after that’s over with, the season is over with, you can sit down and think about it from there.”
Giants players have taken a similar approach.
“The whole team, everybody, wants to end on a high note and play well,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “Understand we’ve got a great opportunity to go play football, something we all love to do, and we cherish these opportunities. So let’s go out there and play at a high level and enjoy playing the game.”
Here are five things to watch on Sunday:
ODELL’S BACK: Every camera is going to be focused on Odell Beckham Jr. as the second-year receiver returns from a one-game suspension for multiple violations of player-safety rules in a game against Carolina on Dec. 20. Expect him to be on his best behavior, although he intends to play with the same intensity that has marked his first two seasons in the league.
Beckham has 91 receptions for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdown catches this season. He needs one more TD to set the team single-season record; he is tied with Homer Jones (1967).
SHURMUR WATCH: It will be interesting to see how much the interim coach does with the offense. Will he let the Eagles huddle or continue with the up tempo that Kelly employed?
“I can’t imagine they change too much,” Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “There will be a couple of wrinkles here and there. What is a little challenging is the tendency part of it. Normally we would try to get a beat on the play caller (if he) has a tendency to run this and that. That won’t be there.
“Maybe two years working with Pat in St. Louis will help.”
Shurmur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator when Spagnuolo was the coach.
WHO’S NEXT?: Speculation is rampant on Kelly’s replacement. One name bound to be mentioned on Sunday is Sean McDermott, the Carolina Panthers’ defensive coordinator who was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator after Jim Johnson died.
On the Giants’ front, this one is wide open. Their tendency is to pick from within, or an NFL assistant with ties to the Giants, or a former head coach. The list is long and needs to be studied. The good news is they will have cap space in the offseason.
GIANTS DEFENSE: New York is last in the league in total defense and passing defense. Entering the final game the Giants have two healthy safeties: rookie Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather. Cooper Taylor and Craig Dahl have concussions. There is a chance former Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, who has been playing safety on the practice squad, might be promoted for the game.
EAGLES DEFENSE: Philadelphia has owned the Giants under Kelly, winning four of five, including three in a row. The Eagles’ front seven has had its way in those games. Manning was sacked three times and threw two interceptions in the 27-7 loss earlier this season. The Eagles also had eight tackles for losses and five quarterback hits in limiting New York to 247 yards.
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