The New York Giants find themselves in an all-too-familiar situation heading into Week 16. Faced with two must-win fixtures down the stretch, the Giants will once again have their season's fate decided in their final game.
Despite New York's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, there is an air of confidence surrounding this team. The Giants have been down this road plenty of times in recent years, guided by the steady supervision of head coach Tom Coughlin.
Having success in the past and holding the title "defending champions" may not always be enough to keep your job in the NFL, though.
The job security of all NFL coaches is constantly under scrutiny on a week-to-week basis. The NFL is a league monitored by "prisoners of the moment," waiting to pounce on each and every mishap reverberated through their coaches' headset.
Here's a look at the job security of the Giants' coaching staff in mid-December.
What's there to say about Tom Coughlin that hasn't already been said? The Giants' head coach went from being a stubborn pariah back in 2007, to a loving grandfather who resolutely adjusted to the personality of his teams in each of the past six seasons.
Coughlin's dedication to reshaping his philosophies is a testament to his love for the game of football. Never has a coach been positioned so firmly on a hot seat in a city as demanding as New York, only to come back and win two Super Bowl titles.
Although the Giants face the distinct possibility of missing the playoffs in 2012, the head coach is the farthest reason for this dilemma.
In his nine seasons at the helm, Coughlin has posted a sterling 82-60 record. As he continues to enhance his Hall of Fame resume, the only plausible question remaining is when the 66-year-old head coach will retire.
Job Security—"Untouchable." Coughlin is afforded the luxury to retire on his terms and make the inevitable career change to full-time grandparent.
Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has unequivocally developed a solid working relationship with quarterback Eli Manning. Throughout his six seasons as offensive coordinator, Gilbride's philosophies have helped propel New York to two Super Bowl titles.
Sure, many fans have had their fair share of gripes with Gilbride during his tenure. It may not be as intense as Buddy Ryan's displeasure with him, but nonetheless, the Giants' identity can often reflect stale play-calling under Gilbride's watchful eye.
However frustratingly conservative or predictable Kevin Gilbride can be at times, the Giants have had tremendous success as an offense over the years.
Serving as Eli Manning's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator since he was drafted in 2004, there's an affinity between these two which is seemingly unbreakable. The Giants' front office will not overlook the fact that Manning and Gilbride have a high comfort level with each other.
Job Security—"Stable." Despite a brief stint as a head coach in San Diego, Gilbride is a lifer in the offensive coordinator role.
Pat Flaherty has been the Giants offensive line coach since 2004. In the nine years since his hiring, the offensive line has consistently been a strength of the team.
Flaherty's biggest accomplishment has been his ability to adapt to the personnel changes up front. In recent years, the Giants have seen several stalwarts depart from the offensive line unit. Veterans such as Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie have all been dispatched in favor of younger players.
One caution to Flaherty's success as a coach is the line's inability to generate a push in the running game.
The Giants rank 15th in the league in rushing and have failed this season in key short-yardage situations. This is coming off the shoulders of a miserable 2011 season in terms of running the ball.
Job Security—"Safe." As long as Eli Manning is standing upright, Flaherty is a valuable asset to this coaching staff.
Sean Ryan has a bright future with the Giants organization. Ryan's ascendancy up the coaching ladder in his six years with New York is evidence of his promising football mind.
Having spent his last two seasons as the wide receivers coach, the 40-year-old Ryan was credited with much of the success his talented unit achieved in 2011. After helping spur the emergence of Victor Cruz, this newly minted quarterbacks coach faces the tough task of instructing an established veteran.
Sean Ryan has spent less time in the NFL than his pupil, Eli Manning.
This could be a situation where a relative neophyte in the coaching game benefits more than the player from their relationship. Manning is a student of the game, and Ryan would be wise to pick his brain during their time together.
Job Security—"On the rise." The Giants love to promote from within, and Ryan appears to have the work ethic they fancy.
The end of the 2012 season may also signify the termination of Perry Fewell's tenure with the Giants. Fortunately for the Giants defensive coordinator, that divorce will likely be the result of his hiring as a head coach for another NFL franchise.
After replacing Bill Sheridan as coordinator in 2010, Fewell has developed into the motivational leader of the Giants defense. The players noticeably gravitate toward their signal-caller, which can sometimes be an underrated quality in coaching.
During his three seasons with the Giants, Perry Fewell has shown he is a man with strong convictions.
His deployment of three safeties on defense, as well as the "NASCAR" package, has been integral to the Giants' success. If New York ventures off on another torrid playoff run fueled by its defense, Fewell will undoubtedly be plucked away from Tom Coughlin.
Job Security—"Heir apparent." Fewell could be Tom Coughlin's successor if he sticks around long enough.
Jim Herrmann has enjoyed marked success during his career as a coach. The 2012 season, however, has been filled with disappointment. The Giants rank 22nd against the run this year, a blemish attributable to the lack of playmaking from the linebacking corps.
Part of Herrmann's dilemma has been the lack of quality personnel at the linebacker position.
While the Giants have often been forced to use just two linebackers at a time this year, it's incumbent upon Herrmann to develop the players he has on the roster. Jacquan Williams and Mark Herzlich have shown very little improvement in their time with the Giants.
Job Security—"Safety not guaranteed." Jim Herrmann is a respected coach, but the mercurial play of his linebackers may lead to his demise.
Tom Quinn dodged an extremely unpleasant situation when the Giants' front office decided to make a change at punter two years ago. Replacing Matt Dodge with Steve Weatherford has been a godsend for the Giants' special teams coach.
Quinn can take pride in the improvement he has engineered in multiple phases of special teams. David Wilson leads the NFL with 1,387 kickoff return yards. Wilson's genesis coupled with solid coverage units, makes special teams one of the strengths of the Giants.
The struggles endured by Lawrence Tynes are not a reflection of Quinn's coaching ability. Tynes has cost the Giants on multiple occasions in 2012, which is something only he can rectify in the future.
New York has suffered through years of listless kick returners. David Wilson is helping Tom Quinn turn a giant weakness into a strength.
Job Security—"Safe." New York's special teams unit is expected to be disciplined with regard to penalties and turnovers. Quinn will feel comfortable so long as his players adhere to those guidelines.