The past month has been a rough one for the New York Giants. After starting the season 6-2 topping off the first half with a win at New England, the Giants have lost four straight and find themselves one game out of the NFC East and Wild Card race.
With the Giants having not won a single game in the second half of the season, the popular critique of Tom Coughlin has once again reared its ugly head—the guy can't win down the stretch.
As the Giants head coach, Coughlin has gone 47-17 in eight seasons through the first eight games; in the final eight, he has a record of 24-36 with four more to go in the 2011 season.
The question has now become pretty simple: Will Coughlin survive another late season collapse with no playoff berth?
The answer is, absolutely not. Owner John Mara showed patience when he stuck by Coughlin after last season, and it looked like the right move until about a month ago.
However, Mara will likely show Coughlin the door despite an overall winning record, four playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title if the Giants fail to reach the playoffs for the third straight year.
Truth be told, everyone has been very hard on Coughlin over the past three years. He does deserve some blame for relying on Bill Sheridan to take over the defense in 2009, but in the previous three years with no playoff berth, the Giants have suffered multiple devastating injuries.
In '09, practically half the defense went down at some point or another, and they had C.C. Brown and Aaron Rouse playing safety. Not Ross, Rouse, who is playing for the UFL right now.
In 2010, it was the offensive side of the ball that took the bulk of the injury blow. Midway through November the Giants were signing guys off the street to play wide receiver.
This year it's been both sides of the ball, and to be honest, Coughlin deserves a ton of credit for getting what he has out of the current roster.
Let's take a look at the major injuries.
- CB Terrell Thomas—torn ACL in preseason
- MLB Jonathan Goff—torn ACL in preseason
- OLB Clint Sintim—torn ACL and patella tendon in preseason
- DT Marvin Austin—torn pectoral muscle in preseason
- WR Domenik Hixon—torn ACL second game of the year
- RB Ahmad Bradshaw missed four games with broken foot
- LB Michael Boley missed two and a half games with bad hamstring
- WR Hakeem Nicks missed the New England game
- WR Mario Manningham missed three games with multiple injuries, likely will miss more
- DE Osi Umenyiora has missed four games, will likely miss more with multiple injuries
- S Kenny Phillps will miss at least two weeks with sprained MCL
- DE Justin Tuck missed four games with groin and neck problems.
- C David Baas has missed three games with multiple injuries
- OT Will Beatty was put on IR with a detached retina, missing final six games
The list of players just mentioned were either all starters or would have played starter-worthy minutes (would have in the case of Marvin Austin).
To have been in contention at all midway through the season was very remarkable.
Having said that, NFL coaches have a shelf life, and often times their voice does not resonate the way it did at the beginning of their term.
Yes, the injuries are certainly more of a factor than the coaching as a reason for the second half collapses, as is the scheduling, but you cannot make excuses in this league.
The Green Bay Packers had 16 players go on injured reserve last year and won a Super Bowl. Of course, they are the exception, but the proof is in the pudding. You can overcome injuries if you put together a good enough roster.
Coughlin and Jerry Reese haven't done that. Reese has been a fantastic judge of collegiate talent, but he made a mistake when he trusted the offensive lineman on his roster. That unit has been a complete disaster and is in need of some serious overhaul.
To be perfectly honest, it would not surprise anyone if the Giants made the playoffs and Coughlin still got fired. Say they end up winning the division and lose the Wild Card matchup at home, you think fans or ownership would tolerate that?
This has been building up for the previous three seasons and could all come to a head depending on how the Giants finish the season.
You won't find many better coaches in the NFL than Tom Coughlin, but for some reason his second half woes continue to haunt him and the franchise.
There is little reason to expect him to be back next season, pending another miracle playoff run.