In the last six games, the Giants are 1-5 and can confidently call this failure in the second half of 2011 season another epic collapse for a team that was widely regarded as a top team in the NFL following their exciting 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, it probably doesn’t for any Giants fan that has been paying attention. Since Tom Coughlin was hired in 2004, second-half collapses have become a trademark for Coughlin, his coaching staff and the New York Giants, after all.
In eight seasons under Coughlin, the Giants are 47-17 in the first half of the season—four times starting at the same 6-2 record they started with this season. In the second half of each season, the story is usually much different.
The Giants have finished twice in eight seasons with a positive record in the second half of the season (5-3 in 2005 and 2008). In each of those seasons, the Giants won the division—New York’s only division titles under Coughlin—only to fall in their first game of the postseason.
In Coughlin’s six other seasons as the Giants’ head coach, Big Blue has finished at or below .500 each year. The Giants boast an atrocious 25-37 record in the second half and are on pace for their worst second half finish under Coughlin since his inaugural season in 2004 with then-rookie Eli Manning.
That 25-37 record equals a .403 win percentage. Of the New York Giants’ last five head coaches, Ray Handley is the only head coach with a worse win percentage in the second half of the season (.375) in two seasons.
Jim Fassel (.491), Bill Parcells (.607), and Dan Reeves (.531) all had better win percentages in the second half of the football season for the Giants.
In past years and even this one, the excuses have been in abundance. Injuries seem to riddle the Giants each season, leaving them scrambling for fill-ins with far less depth than they thought they had at the start of the season. Coughlin’s coordinators fail him on a consistent basis, especially on the defensive side of the ball since Steve Spagnuolo took the head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams following the 2008 season.
Unfortunately, those excuses can only succeed in expunging the one leading these men in their failure each year for a period of time.
Most Giants fans will boast about 2007, crediting Tom Coughlin with a spectacular Super Bowl run and hinging Coughlin’s job status on something that occurred four seasons ago. What many overlook is the reality that, in 2007, the Giants were on pace to collapse once again.
With locker room drama gaining the headlines, the Giants slipped in Week 15 of 2007—much like this season—in embarrassing fashion at home and their playoff hopes were on the ropes. Coughlin’s job was on the line and somewhere in NBC Studios, former Giants running back Tiki Barber was smiling.
Luckily for Coughlin and the Giants, a late-season matchup with the lowly Buffalo Bills—coming off an embarrassing 8-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns—came at the perfect time. The Giants still needed an epic fourth-quarter comeback sparked by a Kawika Mitchell touchdown return and capped with Ahmad Bradshaw’s greatest run of his football career to defeat the Bills and catapult themselves into the playoffs.
As amazing as the Super Bowl run was, it was one season amongst eight of mind-blowing penalties, foolish collapses and heartless finishes. Every season, the Giants appear fearful, panicked and overmatched in the second half of the season, especially in the final few games, and that it something that must lay on the head coach and his failure to get his team prepared and focused for the task at hand.
2011 will likely be the third season in a row the Giants will miss the playoffs. With a team as talented as the Giants are—no matter what experts may have thought before the season—that is just unacceptable.
The Giants’ front office has enabled Coughlin to live off the team’s excuses in the past, but it is time to accept the obvious fact that while Tom Coughlin may not be all of the issue, but he is part of it. He, along with a few of the remaining players on the Giants roster, is the consistent amongst these Giants teams.
Sadly, it’s time for the Giants and Coughlin to cut ties for the betterment of the Giants organization in the future. The Giants must make changes in order to mend the issues that have influenced the yearly failures in New York.