It's no secret that many feel Tom Coughlin should no longer be the coach of the New York Giants. I am not one of them, but I'm here to tell you five reasons why the 2011 season is an important year for Coughlin and the Giants.
John Mara came out at the end of the 2010 season and let everyone know Coughlin wasn't going anywhere, but I'm curious as to whether the lockout had anything to do with it. Could they afford to change coaches with a potential lockout looming?
A new coach would have found it tough to acclimate his style to the new players when he can't talk to them.
Will Mara afford Coughlin the same confidence if the Giants fail to make the playoffs? I doubt it.
This will be there no matter who is the coach in New York; the pressure of playing in the bright lights of the big city is astronomical.
It's the biggest media market in the country, and the fans expect nothing less than winning teams. They are relentless.
In the game against the Jaguars, the fans really let the players hear it by booing them into the locker room at halftime after being down 17-7.
This was a 6-4 team I'm talking about.
This has become a serious problem for the Giants over the past three years. They never seem to play well down the stretch and it has cost them dearly.
In 2008, they looked primed to repeat as champs with an 11-1 dominant start, but lost Plaxico Burress due to his bone-headed mistakes and the team never recovered. They went 1-4 in their final five games.
In 2009, they started the season 5-0 against a cupcake of a schedule, then injuries and terrible defensive play-calling derailed them, finishing the season 3-8 and 8-8 overall.
This past season, they started slow but got hot in the middle to get to 6-2, and many people called them the most complete team in the NFL. Turnovers in the second half of the season and a terrible game against the Eagles (which will be discussed next) ruined their chances of returning to the playoffs.
Coughlin has come out and said he and his staff are working tirelessly to figure out what's been going wrong, and to be honest it has a lot to do with injuries, but some of the blame has to fall on Coughlin.
This one goes on the entire coaching staff, not just Coughlin. How do you blow a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter? How do you stop Michael Vick for seven quarters and then suddenly lose him on every play?
How do you not tell Matt Dodge if he kicks it to DeSean Jackson on the final play of the game that he will be out of a job??!?!
So many things went wrong against the Eagles, and it looked like that was going to be the final straw for most fans.
That obviously wasn't the case, but I guarantee you it would be brought up amidst a poor showing in 2011.
Bill Cowher has allegedly called the Giants the No. 1 team he would like to coach if and when he returns to the NFL to be a head coach.
That lure might be too much for the front office to hold off. However, I've had a lot of time to think about the potential of Cowher and how he compares to Coughlin.
Don't get me wrong, I would love it if Cowher were the Giants coach, but only if Coughlin were allowed to leave on his own terms.
Both have one Super Bowl ring, both have winning records as a head coach and both have had success in taking teams to the playoffs. Cowher took the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times in 15 years, and in 15 years Coughlin has taken the Giants and Jags to the playoffs eight times, and probably would have the past two years if they didn't sustain so many injuries to their top players.
However, no excuses in the NFL, so on paper Cowher looks like the better option, I'm just wondering if the Steelers organization had as much to do with his success as he did. They are a top-class organization and have never really been bad other than a stretch in the 1980s.
The funny part is, while they weren't that great during that time, they still only had two season under .500 in the '80s.
The fact that Mike Tomlin has gone to two Super Bowls in five season says something. Cowher was only able to get to the big game once in his career, and that was only after he hired Dick LeBeau.
Giants fans shouldn't get all that excited over Cowher, they should be more excited for Tom Coughlin to retire and have Perry Fewell take over. He's a guy that players would go to war with.
Under a full season with Coughlin and Eli at the helm, the Giants saw a stretch of four straight seasons making the playoffs.
The past two have not gone as well, although they did finish 10-6 this season.
That said, fans are getting antsy and are not willing to suffer through long periods of losing. Frankly, neither is anyone in the Mara family.
After the 2009 season, Mara made it clear how upset he was with an 8-8 year, and vowed that everyone's jobs were at stake.
He fired Bill Sheridan the morning after the final game of the season; how's that for snap decisions? If Tom Coughlin is unable to take his team to the playoffs for the third straight season, there is a very good chance he won't have a job in 2012.