Giants vs. Packers: Why Tom Coughlin Needs to Win to Stay off Hot Seat

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IJanuary 10, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants looks on in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons
 during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

After dismantling the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL playoffs, the New York Giants now turn to the 15-1 Green Bay Packers

Amazing how much can change in a month's time. 

It was not long ago that many in Big Blue nation were calling for head coach Tom Coughlin's head after a depressing loss to the Washington Redskins that brought the Giants to 7-7, myself among them. 

I had had enough. Enough of the embarrassing home losses. Enough of the playing down to opponents on more than one occasion every season. Enough of the team showing up not motivated for some games. 

Enough of the inept Kevin Gilbride at offensive coordinator, who is apparently attached at the hip to Coughlin. 

Enough of the second-half collapses, which honestly have as much to do with Coughlin as the scheduling and injuries the Giants have suffered through over the years. 

I was done giving him the benefit of the doubt, though, when I saw other coaches succeeding under similar circumstances. 

Maybe this recent stretch of wins that includes his one and only playoff win outside the 2007 magical run should have changed my mind. 

It has to a certain extent. Before, I was convinced the Giants would lose one of the final games of the season and miss the playoffs for the third straight year.

That had not happened since the mid '90s and I firmly believe, despite showing him support throughout his whole tenure, the Mara family would have let Coughlin go. 

Thanks to some help from the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants stayed alive and were able to take care of business to win the NFC East.

Even then, I was convinced if the Giants lost to the Falcons, Coughlin would have been shown the door.

Coming up with this dominant playoff win has subsided the feeling that Coughlin will be fired, but he should not be considered off the hot seat. 

This weekend he has an opportunity to silence every doubter in the country. If the Giants can pull off a miracle upset over the Packers, which many actually believe they can, then Coughlin will have bought himself the choice to end his career on his own terms. 

Of course, this is just my opinion. There is no way of knowing how John Mara feels about the job Coughlin did this year. 

He could be of the opinion that Coughlin exceeded expectations, considering the amount of injuries the Giants sustained at the start of the season, and no one would blame him for keeping him as the head coach for the 2012 season.  

On the same token, no one should be shocked if the Giants get blown out by the Packers and he ends up getting canned. Sure, Coughlin did well with so many injuries, but they also beat a few good teams this year and lost to teams they had no business losing to. 

If you beat the Patriots, Eagles (with Vick), Cowboys twice and Jets, then you should not lose to the Redskins twice, Seahawks and Eagles (without Vick).

You will never hear me call Tom Coughlin a bad coach, but he is an average motivator and does have some flaws.

Inconsistency, dumb penalties and the inability to stay motivated for every game reflects on the head coach. Those are not qualities a team wants to be associated with.

At the same time, Coughlin is one of the better decision makers in the NFL. As much as his teams tend to play down to their competition, they always seem to get up for the better teams with a few exceptions (any time they play the Saints).

It may be frustrating for the younger crowd, but Coughlin's approach to the game always puts the Giants in a position to be competitive. 

One example of this? The Giants have never attempted a fake field goal in Coughlin's career. He is old-fashioned. He never questions his decision to punt on fourth and one from the opposing 40 yard line. 

He understands the intricacies of the game, and that has helped the Giants win more often than not. 

The combination of both bad and good qualities reflects how the Giants have played over the years. Never doing better than 12-4, and never doing worse than 6-10. Frustrating at times and dominant at others.  

These qualities, both good and bad, will be put to the test on Sunday in Green Bay. In order to beat the near-perfect team, you have to have a near-perfect game.

A win will remove Coughlin's name from the hot seat list until he retires. His seat is getting colder by the day, but a loss this weekend could warm it up again.