2011 Playoff Picture: What a Giants Collapse Would Mean to Tom Coughlin

Ian HollenbergContributor IIDecember 13, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants congratulates Victor Cruz #80 against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on December 4, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The New York Giants regained first place in the NFC East with their 37-34 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. If all goes well for the Giants, they will clinch their first division title since the 2008 season, and they will get to host a home playoff game.

But what if the Giants don't win out?

If the Giants collapse and miss the playoffs, questions will arise. What position do the Giants need to improve on via the draft? Can their secondary improve? What happened to the Giants run game?

But there is one question that that will loom larger than the rest:

Will the Giants keep Tom Coughlin?

Coughlin, the Giants head coach since 2004, has won a Super Bowl during his time in New York and has made the playoffs four times during his seven years here.

But the Giants suffered a collapse at the end of last year, blowing a 24-3 halftime lead in Week 15 against the Eagles, followed by a 45-17 defeat in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.

If Coughlin is unable to hold a division lead at Week 15 for the second year in a row, many Giants fans will want to see Tom Coughlin fired.

However, regardless of this year's outcome, Tom Coughlin has done enough to earn at least one more year as head coach of the Giants. 

First off, very few people expected that the Giants would contend for the NFC East title.

The new-look Philadelphia Eagles were called a "Dream Team" with Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin as well as newcomers Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steve Smith, Jason Babin and Vince Young.

Many fans and analysts thought the Eagles would easily win the NFC East.

Also, many people (myself included) thought the Dallas Cowboys, with Tony Romo healthy, would finish with a better record than the Giants.

But Coughlin and the Giants jumped to a 6-2 start, and although the Giants went 1-4 in their next five games, they came close to defeating the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, two of the NFC's best teams. 

The Giants have exceeded expectations, and some of that should be attributed to Coughlin.

Also, Tom Coughlin only has one losing season as the Giants head coach, and that was his first year. Why would any team get rid of a head coach who, at worst, leads his team to a .500 record?

Coughlin has proven to be a great coach the past eight seasons, and should not be fired just yet.

So, do Giants fans have the right to be mad if another collapse occurs? Of course.

Do they have to view this season as a moral victory, since even getting to this point was a struggle? Of course not.

But Giants fans should not lobby for management to fire Coughlin.

If everything goes the way it should, Tom Coughlin will be on the sidelines coaching the Giants in their 2012-2013 season opener next September.