Tom Coughlin: Is the New York Giants Coach on the Hottest Seat in the NFL?

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IApril 4, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants looks on against the Dallas Cowboys on November 14, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cowboys defeated the Giants 33-20.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Everyone loves a good rumor, and Tom Coughlin has been under the microscope more than anyone on the New York Giants in the past five years.

After the 2006 season where they finished 8-8 and still somehow made the playoffs, the team's ownership asked Coughlin to convince them why he should remain the head coach.

Imagine how that would make you feel. "Hey Tom, you know we think you're a great coach but, uh...why should you stick around?" That would be an awkward meeting.

In 2007 Coughlin made a change in his coaching style and delegated much of the leadership responsibilities to his players. He created the leadership counsel, as well as let up on the dictator mentality.

This, along with the brilliant teachings of his defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, propelled the Giants on a magical Super Bowl run that included beating the 18-0 New England Patriots.

How long until Coughlin stops getting a pass for that? Are we willing to ignore inefficiencies in his coaching because of how awesome that playoff run was?

Frankly, I'm not sure Coughlin's on the hottest seat because of the comments that John Mara made before the season finale against the Redskins. He said Coughlin was there to stay and there was never any doubt in his mind.

Marvin Lewis seemingly gets fired by the fans every year, and Gary Kubiak has not gotten the Texans to live up to expectations yet.

Both of these guys are on a much shorter leash than Coughlin.

One problem could also be that the Giants haven't had a stable at the defensive coordinator position. They've had three in the past four seasons, and the defense has had to adjust to several different styles.

Although the defense was ravished by injuries in 2009, Bill Sheridan was also a disaster of a hire. Many people like to give Coughlin a pass for the collapse that year, but it was he who approved the hiring of Sheridan so he has to take some of the blame.

I can't imagine how awesome the Giants would be if they held on to Steve Spagnuolo a little longer. I always imagined him being kept around as a head coach in waiting, but the Rams head coaching gig was obviously too much for Spags to turn down.

The Giants have also had to get along with a terrible offensive coordinator. I know the Giants have had one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL the past two seasons, but Gilbride is one of the worst I have ever seen at making adjustments on the fly.

He doesn't alter his game plan in the middle of games, he just stays the course despite nothing he is calling is working. I've seen this happen in so many games and it's just so frustrating.

If Coughlin ever gets fired or retires, I hope to God the Giants don't hire Gilbride as his replacement.

The biggest problem with Coughlin is the team's inability to finish seasons strong. That can mostly be attributed to suffering a huge amount of injuries the past two seasons and Plaxico Burress' issues the season before.

Coughlin has said that he and his staff are working tirelessly to figure out exactly why they continue to falter down the stretch, but I doubt they are going to find any other reasons than those I just mentioned.

In 2010 they suffered a ton of injuries to the offensive side of the ball, but the main culprit to missing the playoffs was turnovers. The Giants gave the ball away 42 times, which is an average of more than two per game.

Turnovers usually fall directly on the head coach; the fumbles the Giants gave away have to be corrected by Coughlin this year. He fixed Tiki Barber's fumbling problems so you'd like to think he can do the same with Ahmad Bradshaw, who led the league in fumbles.

However, Coughlin should not be blamed for the fact that Eli Manning was an interception machine in 2010.

Injuries to the wide receivers had a lot to do with Manning throwing a career high 25 interceptions. He forced the issue far too often, especially in the 2nd half of the season when the Giants were having to sign guys off the street to catch passes.

Coughlin shares the blame with his players with how many turnovers they gave up, but the responsibility falls on Coughlin to fix it.

With any hot seat article you always have to take a look at the possible replacements, and every one of you reading this has already made up your mind on one of them—Bill Cowher.

I am here to tell you I would not want Bill Cowher to be the head coach of the New York Giants if I had my choice. He would only be my choice if the next guy left for another job.

Cowher is a fine coach who is widely overrated. He won one Super Bowl and didn't win it until he hired Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator and drafted Ben Roethlisberger

Show me a head coach that goes only as far as his defense and QB take him and I'll show you an average head coach.

Now you're thinking, "doesn't Tom Coughlin fall under that category?" Yes. I stand by my convictions, and if I'm going to call Cowher an average head coach than I'm going to call Coughlin the same.

Coughlin only went as far as his defense and improved quarterback took him. I know his change in philosophy had something to do with it, but that was not the reason they won the Super Bowl.

If I had my choice, I would want Perry Fewell to take over the head coaching job. Fewell strikes me as a guy his players would go to war for. I've seen how some of the players talk about him, the defense plays hard for him each and every game and feed off his energy and fire.

I felt like the Giants lucked out when nobody hired Fewell as their next head coach. He's been a great defensive coordinator everywhere and even went 3-4 as an interim coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2009. This is a good record considering most teams that fire their coach mid season are in shambles.

Jon Gruden is another coach who has been rumored to come back for the right job. I think people make too much of the fact that he supposedly won the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy's players. If that were the case then why didn't the Bucs win a championship before that?

However, he was another coach who had success in the playoffs in one year only, so you wonder if he is the best fit.

I like the idea of using a coach who has never been a full time head coach, especially one who shows as much passion on the field that Fewell does.

If the Giants make the playoffs this year I don't see Coughlin getting fired, but I'd be lying to you if I told you his job wasn't at stake.


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