4 Biggest Mistakes Made by Tom Coughlin During His New York Giants Tenure
In 2004, the New York Giants underwent a regime change when they fired Jim Fassel and hired Tom Coughlin, a proven coach and disciplinarian who many thought would turn this Giants team around like he did with the Jaguars as their first coach.
He was a disciple of Bill Parcells and a former Giants assistant, which made him an instant favorite among fans.
Along with his hire, the Giants possessed the fourth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, and very early on it was clear they were after Ole Miss QB Eli Manning.
They had to move up to get him, but the two would begin their career with the Giants that season.
He brought the city a championship in 2007, but what are some of the mistakes he has made over the years that may have prevented the Giants from winning multiple championships? Or even just making the playoffs in the years that they missed them?
There have certainly been multiple mistakes made by this organization during Coughlin's tenure, but this article is highlighting the four biggest mistakes made by Coughlin during that time.
Backing Up Kenny Phillips with C.C. Brown
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In 2009, the Giants started out the season 5-0, surprising the many critics who predicted them to finish third or last in the division. They looked like the NFL's most complete team, dominating on both offense and defense.
Starting safety Kenny Phillips only played the first two games of the season and the Giants then discovered Phillips had a very serious arthritic knee condition that would threaten his career; he missed the rest of the season.
During the next 11 games, the Giants were terrible on defense and much of the blame has to fall on Tom Coughlin for not recognizing the lack of talent that C.C. Brown had. The Giants allowed 40 points in a single game five times during those last 11 games.
They lost eight of those remaining games and finished the season a disappointing 8-8. "Can't Cover" Brown was a popular choice to place the blame on, but Coughlin should have recognized early on in training camp that Brown was not a good backup to have on the team.
Not Convincing Jerry Reese to Hold on to Kawika Mitchell
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Kawika Mitchell was one of the most underrated players on the Giants 2007 Super Bowl-winning team, and they should have done more to try to keep him around.
He left after that season and joined the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent. Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Mitchell was a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker, but he was a great team player and a veteran leader.
In 2009 the the Giants defense was just terrible and the linebackers were a big part of that problem. They have gotten better but they still have not produced at the same level that the 2007 crew did.
That year was one of the worst in Giants history in terms of defense, and it was especially painful since they have been known for having great defenses over the years.
I was willing to accept that the Giants wanted to develop their young players at the position and Mitchell being there was putting their development on hold (I'm mainly talking about Chase Blackburn, Gerris Wilkinson, and Brian Kehl), but none of them turned out to be as good as the Giants hoped they would be.
Brian Kehl has been cut, and Chase Blackburn and Gerris Wilkinson might also get cut this year; the Giants drafted two linebackers in the 2011 NFL Draft and they have to make room for them.
So the reason Mitchell was let go was basically for nothing since the linebackers did not develop the way the Giants hoped they would.
Trusting Matt Dodge for the Entire Season
I realize the Giants used a draft pick on Matt Dodge, but they should have seen something like what happened in the video coming.
He had one of the worst seasons from a punter I've ever seen. He couldn't pin teams deep, when he had about 60 yards of field in front of him he would always go into the end zone, and when he was backed up in his own end he would shank punts.
Not to mention his not being able to hold on to snaps.
The Giants should have cut him and signed him to the practice squad by the time Dec. 19 rolled around, if they wanted to keep him that is.
What happened that day was one of the worst games by the Giants in their history, giving up a 21-point fourth-quarter lead and then letting DeSean Jackson end the game because Dodge couldn't get the punt out of bounds.
It wasn't really Coughlin's fault the play happened, you can see him telling Dodge in the video "What did I tell you to do" and then later "kick it out of bounds!" But he should have avoided the whole situation by releasing him in the first place.
Pulling Kurt Warner for Eli Manning in 2004
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The Giants were 5-4 at the time and while Warner was not having the best season, he was a much better option that Manning at that point.
Not only that, but Manning could have learned a lot more watching from the sidelines than being thrown into the lions den.
It's a good thing hindsight is 20/20, because Manning clearly did not benefit from getting that experience. It took until the playoffs in 2007 for him to fully live up to his potential. He had great games here and there, but he was very inconsistent and turnover prone.
He has since become a very reliable and top 10 starting QB in the league, but he may have been even better if he was able to watch for a season or two.
Who knows, maybe the Giants would have had a more successful season in 2004. Kurt Warner did go on to lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl later.
The sitting and watching technique has proven to work time and time again. Carson Palmer sat behind Jon Kitna for a season and looked like the next Peyton Manning before his knee injury in the playoffs.
Aaron Rogers sat for three full seasons behind Brett Favre before he took over the starting job and he's been one of the best QBs in the game in those three years.
If the Giants had been patient with Manning, he could have learned more and took over the team in 2005 or 2006 a much more polished QB.