We've already heard the argument from the other side. In essence the New York Giants have been a competitive football team since Tom Coughlin's arrival, a fair point, but is that enough to keep the Giant universe yearning for the soon to be 65 year old coach after what appears to be another epic, end of the season burnout in 2010?
Will John Mara, beholden to those who have spent endless thousands on PSL's, luxurious boxes, and everyone else out there hardily bleeding Giant blue have the same kind of patience with a coach who has seen his fair share of valleys to go along with the highest of achievable peaks in 2007 as his legendary father Wellington?
Right now, weighing most heavily on Coach Coughlin's side is the uncertainty over the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Why fire him and end up having to pay two salaries instead of one when there might not even be any professional football ~ okay, the USFL, & Arena League if you really want to be a stickler ~ played in 2011.
But let's put that aside for now, presume we're going into next season the same as any other, and let's ponder the points below in examining the practicality of bringing Coach Tom Coughlin back next year.
Dog Years: In years one & two the players tuned Coughlin out for all his idiosyncratic rules and his general unwillingness to communicate with them aside from barking out directives.
While he appeared to turn a leaf prior to the 2007 season, employing a players committee, not going quite as ballistic on the sideline as years gone by, he is still the ultimate grinder, runs the Giants as hard in training camp as any coach in the league ~ yet for all his supposed attention to detail the players still seem to be tuning him out still which has to in part explain this years extraordinary preponderance of turnovers, (is it 41 in fifteen games at this point?)
Teams require a certain looseness and self confidence to win in big games down the stretch. To an extent they need to enjoy the game, enjoy coming to work, to practice, to be among their teammates.
Is any of that possible under Coach Coughlin? It's hard to say as an outsider looking in but I would say 8 years under Coughlin has to seem like 16 years under anyone else.
Brutal, Inexplicable losses: It'll seem like nitpicking, all teams experience tough losses, but losing to the Titans 24-21 after leading 21-3 late was an abomination not easily forgotten and part of a 2006 run that took the team from 6-2 to 8-8.
That season also included the Jay Feely end of the first half 54 yards field goal attempt in a torrential downpour that Devin Hester returned 108 yards for six en route to a 38-20 Chicago slaughter.
Last seasons meltdown included endless horrific losses but the old Giants Stadium finale ~ the Matt Moore disaster~ certainly sticks out. (Getting crushed by Denver on Thanksgiving night, New Orleans in a nationally televised shootout, Minnesota in the actual season finale ~ a lot of coaches might not have even survived 2009 and don't think pretty little Bill Cowher thoughts didn't cross part-owner John Mara's mind at some point this past off season.)
We don't have to rehash last week's Philly disaster, but the loss to the Cowboys at home was really the killer and no matter what anyone says I will always say that lining up in the shotgun 3rd and goal from the one with an empty backfield is as dumb as it gets when you have a pair of back like Jacobs and Bradshaw and a quarterback living thru an utterly mistake prone season.
Did Coughlin throw the ball or mis-run the route. No, but does he have a run & shoot coach directing what is supposed to be a smashmouth offense, or at least a pretty consistent version thereof.
The Worst Special Teams In Football: This has been going on for a significant part of three years running.The most lopsided field position in the league and so many kicks returned against Giant special teams for T.D.'s it's virtually impossible to fathom.
And can somebody please tell us why a healthy Danny Ware's been on the sidelines all year while the Giants seemed willing to run anyone off the streets in his stead until the Philly game? And why in the world would Coughlin have allowed Hakeem Nicks to return a kick in frigid, perilous conditions yesterday when Ware was getting the pigskin out past the thirty on almost every one of his abundant opportunities?
Forget about the almost fumble, what if he had torn up an ankle or a knee. He's as close to an indispensible player as the Giants have and the decison was borne of pure, unthinkable desperation.
In truth, Domenick Hixon aside, everything about the special teams has basically been a disaster under coach Tom Quinn and the fact that he still had his job heading into 2010 is an idictment against Coughlin.
The Worst Special Teams In Football Part Two: This is strictly to do with Matt Dodge. Yes the kid's got upside potential but he showed very early on that he also had the potential to blow up ballgames any number of ways.
They should have hidden him away on the practice squad for a year and brought in a vet. Either that of brought in Feagles or a Feagles type to be in the kids ear 12 hours a day. Obviously whatever Quinn & Coughlin have been feeding him all year wasn't enough.
Bill Sheridan: And if not Bill Sheridan, secondary coach, Pete Giunta. Enough said.
Coughlin's Never Won Anything Without Steve Spagnuolo By His Side: With players and particularly secondary members falling by the wayside the Giants still managed to top the Packers & Patriots, a pair of airborne juggernauts to climax the 2007 season.
This years healthy group has been shredded with the season on the line and in plenty of fourth quarter, game closing moments throughout the year as well.
How can any team be so vulnerable to both the short and long pass at the same moment? Is it just a complete and utter lack of speed, technique ~ the Giants may have the number two D in the league but last year they finished around seven if I recall.
That number means nothing when you end up losing critical games because the defense simply can't cover anyone or get off the field. Of course it's on defensive coordinator Perry Fewell as much as Coughlin, not too mention the players ~ Kenny Phillips for one doesn't seem to be able to run a lick at this point ~ but in the end it has to come to down the head coach.
Is that an overblown remark? Well contemplate the relative responsibilites of the head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators this year for the New England Patriots.
That would be Bill Belichick and, ummm, Bill Belichick, and, ummm, Bill Belichick ~ who happens to be wearing all three hats this year. Granted he's the best the game has to offer, and while he has no interest in crossing over state lines the Giants still need to aspire to be the best they can in ever category and of course that includes the head coach.
He'll Be 65 Years Old: They force people out of desk jobs at 65. Even the great Don Shula got pushed out the door at the age of 65?
In fact I'd still rather have Shula coaching the Giants at 81 ~ have you seen how good he looks in those Slim Fast commercials. He's got the geriatric set everywhere swallowing up the dietary meals, powdery drinks and bars with great regularity.
Seriously though, how long does Coughlin get to keep this job. He's certainly not ready for a wheel chair, but at a certain point the age gap makes it extremely difficult to relate to the players and vice versa. If you think that doesn't matter look at the success Spags is having in St. Louis or a Raheem Morris is having in Tampa Bay.
And Finally: It's the oldest edict in the book. What are you going to do? Get rid of all the players, or get rid of the coach and a heap of his assistants? The Giants have had some decent talent these last eight years, but aside from the Super Bowl run it's been 3 first round and outs or no playoff berth at all for Coughlin.
Some will say that's enough. Others will beg for Coach Coughlin to get out of Dodge.
Where do you stand?
That is it for today.