Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
In what I think is my boldest prediction, I would not be shocked if this season is Coughlin’s last as head coach, regardless if he wins or loses.
Let’s start with the losing.
Coughlin is coming off a 7-9 season after back-to-back seasons where his teams have posted records of 9-7. One of those teams, the 2011 squad, won the Super Bowl.
The 2012 team, however, suffered a colossal second-half flop that saw them go 3-5 in the final eight games, two of those losses being blowout losses to Atlanta (34-0) and Baltimore (33-14).
That second-half flop carried over into 2013 in the form of a 0-6 start. As a result, general manager Jerry Reese blew up the roster, signing 15 new players while passing on re-signing 16 of the players who were with the team in 2013.
While the roster was being revamped, so too was the offensive coaching staff. Coughlin replaced long-time assistants Kevin B. Gilbride (offensive coordinator), Jerald Ingram (running backs) and Michael Pope (tight ends) and re-assigned Kevin M. Gilbride from receivers to tight ends and Sean Ryan from quarterbacks to receivers.
Coughlin also hired three new coaches: offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, running backs coach Craig Johnson and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf.
Given all of this change, what happens then if the Giants do not improve last year’s record and return to the playoffs? Is Coughlin, the winning coach of two Super Bowl championship teams, still safe?
I’m not so sure he is, not after management only gave him a one-year extension in February to remove the lame-duck status.
Now let's look at why I think this might be his last season if he wins.
While Coughlin told reporters at the end of last year that he hopes to continue coaching, I think if he can go out on top, he’s smart enough to realize when to say when.
The NFL landscape is changing largely, thanks to the push on player safety. Many of the changes have forced old-school coaches, such as Coughlin, to adapt, and while he has done a good job of it, can he keep up with the pace, or will he reach a point where enough is enough?
Then there is a matter of finishing what he started. Coughlin has always preached to his team about staying the course and not giving up.
If Coughlin, who at the end of last year told reporters that he “definitely (has some) unfinished business” with the Giants, is able to finish what he set out to start, then January 2015 might be as good of a time as any to walk away with his pride intact.
Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.