It's been two months since the Giants' stunning victory in Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots. Head coach Tom Coughlin still sounds like a guy who wants to stick around for several more years.
That's understandable, given his two Super Bowl rings in the last four years and his new-found respect as a successful elder statesman of NFL coaches.
It is good to be king. But what if 2012 doesn't pan out as many expect it will?
What if, come mid-season, the G-Men are underperforming again and the Coughlin naysayers come out of the woodworks?
Should Coughlin walk off into the sunset and call it a career? He certainly has nothing left to prove, and is just about a shoo-in to make the Hall of Fame.
Coughlin is one of only two men to take an expansion team to the conference final in its second year, as he lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC title game in 1997 and again in 2000.
He now has two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, has compiled a 142-114 record over his career and has not had a losing record in seven years.
He's weathered the New York media and the Giants' locker room—which was not always staunchly behind the polarizing Coughlin.
What kind of season would compel Tom Coughlin to retire in 2013?
Since the Giants win in XLVI, fans of Big Blue have considered the possibility that if Coughlin were to win back-to-back titles he would retire after next season.
But what if he doesn't? Should he endure another brutally demanding season under the microscope that is NYC?
Or would he be better off walking away?
Of course, none of us can speak for Coughlin, nor can we read his mind. I have a hunch that if Coughlin's Giants fall short of another title in 2012, but put together a decent season along the way, he will step down.
Here are the possibilities:
- A third Super Bowl title would make Coughlin a first-ballot Hall of Famer and set the stage for him to retire on top. Even the ever-energetic Coughlin would find it hard to ignore that storybook ending.
- A solid season, followed by a playoff run that ends short of a Super Bowl title. I still see Coughlin giving great weight to retirement should this happen.
- A 9- or 10-win season and the Giants just miss the playoffs. Again, I think he would give it a lot of consideration.
- A 6-10 clunker. The only scenario in which I would bet money that Coughlin absolutely returns for 2013 is if the G-Men have a disastrous year and rack up double-digit losses.
Coughlin has too much pride and too much sense of responsibility to the franchise and to his players to walk away at that point, leaving behind a team in disarray.
He has clearly earned the right to right that ship if, on the off chance, that needs to be done.
Either way, Coughlin has nothing left to prove. Five years after he retires he will be a Hall of Fame coach, not just for what he accomplished in New York, but for how he established the Jaguars so early in that team's fledgling existence.