Eagles vs. Giants: Big Win Not Proof That Status Quo Will Work in New York

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 30:  Tom Coughlin, Head Coach of the New York Giants looks on during their game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on December 30, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

If pride was what the New York Giants were playing for on Sunday in their season finale, they at least regained some dignity in a blowout victory over the listless Philadelphia Eagles

The problem, of course, is that the margin of victory didn't make a difference in the standings. The Giants could only win or lose, and while they took care of their own business, their playoff fate was beyond their control Sunday. They didn't get the necessary help from the Detroit Lions 600 miles west, and now we'll have a new Super Bowl champion in 2012. 

The question, now, is whether the 42-7 win was impressive enough to convince Tom Coughlin that the team's recent struggles were an aberration or if he might still believe the team needs some major tweaks in order to make another Super Bowl run before the Eli Manning era starts to fade. 

We don't know what Coughlin was thinking prior to this outing. We never know what Coughlin's thinking. Maybe he wasn't panicking, maybe he was. But the majority of fans and the media felt as though it had become obvious that the defense wasn't cutting it anymore. The pass rush let down the Giants all season, the secondary continued to suck and Manning lacked consistency on the other side of the ball.

I hope Coughlin knows that this team isn't skilled enough to contend year in and year out. They just aren't. They made two shocking Super Bowl runs in a five-year span, but many of the key contributors from those magical seasons are either no longer present or have become significantly less effective. 

What happened against Atlanta and Baltimore in Weeks 15 and 16—when they were crushed by a combined score of 67-14—was supposed to be a wake-up call for a team that needs to make major changes. They woke up on the field in Week 17, but we can only hope that an impressive victory in what turned out to be a meaningless game didn't cause the front office to fall back asleep. 

What happened in the previous two weeks was extreme. But if you didn't overreact to those losses, you'd be smart to take this win with a grain of salt. Even if you erase the three recent hyperbolic performances from your memory, keep in mind that this was a team already playing mediocre football dating back to Week 7. 

This division has changed dramatically. Sunday night, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys will meet for the NFC East title. Those two teams will enter 2013 as favorites to finish 1-2 in the division.

With the Eagles likely to willingly get a makeover in the offseason, the Giants can't afford to be stubborn. They need new blood up front on defense and in the secondary and they need to consider shaking things up in the coaching staff. 

If they enter next year the way they exited 2012 in terms of who's playing and who's coaching, the Giants could look a lot more like the Eagles did today come the final week of 2013.