New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was unpopular with the players at the beginning of his tenure with the team, but he quickly gained respect by bringing credibility and results. He also has two Super Bowl championships that back up his status as one of the NFL’s head coaches, and yet we go through this same “hot seat” shtick year-in and year-out. It’s almost as if the doubters never end, and it’s as if there’s a sea of endless criticism directed at him. I guess it’s the price you pay for coaching in the city of New York (poor Rex Ryan is on the hot seat for making an awful Jets roster credible this year), but it’s a problem. And if Coughlin weren’t so good at creating a disciplined team committed to winning, it would probably have ended up being a major distraction.
The idea that Coughlin has lost this locker room and that his message has worn thin is nonsensical. This is friggin’ Tom Coughlin we’re talking about. Plus, am I suddenly to believe that Lawrence Taylor’s words should be taken for gospel? Taylor is one of the greatest players in NFL history, but his belief that Coughlin should be fired is one that shouldn’t be adopted by everyone else. I mean, Taylor isn’t the foremost expert in messages from coaches, especially when they pertain to discipline. More importantly, does he know for sure that the actual Giants players are tuning Coughlin out?
I don’t think that’s the case at all, and the problems with the Giants are relating to personnel. The offensive line is old, and Jerry Reese and everyone else knows this. They need to overhaul that line in order to give Eli Manning adequate protection (he’s been given no chance to operate, and that’s why his interceptions are so high this year) and the running backs adequate running lanes. Andre Brown has had to work his tail off for every little yard on each snap, and it’s evident that this line has crumbled under age and injuries; it needs an influx of younger, more talented players. And the defense? Don’t get me started on that secondary, because it’s also in need of great repair.
Coughlin, on the other hand, needs to stay. He’s been one of the only constant on the Giants, and he still has plenty of motivation. And when Coughlin is motivated to strike down the doubters and perform at a high level, then the rest of the league has been put on notice. Check out this quote provided by NJ.com’s Conor Orr, “I mean, probably even more because there are a lot of those that are telling you that you didn’t do very well and you’re not a very good coach and you’re not this and you’re not that, so perhaps you have something to prove.”
History also backs up Coughlin and his ability to get the New York Giants to bounce back. In 2011, he was on the hot seat after an 8-8 finish in 2009 and another year without a postseason appearance in 2010 despite a 10-6 record. Although the Giants won one less game in 2011, Coughlin and his team buckled down when they needed to and won another ring. Heck, in 2007 when Coughlin won his first Super Bowl, his job security was in question after an 8-8 season and a Wild Card exit in 2006.
The truth is, Coughlin has been on the hot seat for almost ever year of his career, and he’s proven whoever put him on the hot seat wrong time after time. It’s evident that what ails the Giants right now isn’t bad coaching, but rather a lack of talent. The offensive line stinks. The secondary needs significant upgrades. All is not lost for this team, and I think only some tweaks are needed in order for the Giants to win the division next year. But if they fire Coughlin, then that puts them a few pegs back, because they disrupt continuity, fire a great head coach who has been a constant for the team, and I think it also sends the wrong message to the players. If Reese fires him (I’m sure Reese won’t, though, since he’s also proven over the years that he’s immune to the whims of outside opinion), then that basically tells people, “Look, we don’t care about fixing the actual problem, we just care about finding a scapegoat that has been criticized by some fans and media members and pinning our issues on him by firing him.”
The Giants don’t operate that, and they would be crazy to start running their organization on whims now. A lack of motivation is never an issue for Coughlin, and I hope Sunday’s overtime win quieted most of the knocks against Coughlin. Although the Giants were outgained by a superior Detroit Lions team, they prevailed in overtime due to some great coaching by Coughlin, who outmastered Jim Schwartz (that guy deserves to be fired, not Coughlin). Even during this season, the Giants have shown bounce-back qualities under Coughlin, and he’s such a great coach that he can turn things around even when there are talent-related and injury-related issues.
Below are some rapid-fire defenses of Coughlin.
1. Two veteran, starting offensive linemen were placed on the injured reserve earlier in the year, and that only exacerbated the blocking issues that caused an ineffective running game and Eli Manning’s struggles.
2. How is it Coughlin’s fault that his quarterback threw 26 interceptions and imploded due to bad blocking?
3. According to Pythagorean wins, the Giants expected win-loss total this season is a horrendous 4.8-10.2. The fact that they are 6-9 means that they have outperformed their projection by 1.2 wins, which usually points to exceptional coaching.
4. Kevin Gilbride might be the worst offensive coordinator in the league. He can’t call plays, and he’s arguably the worst OC in the game at making in-game adjustments; there’s a reason why Giants fans despise him.
5. Have you seen all the injuries the Giants have had to deal with at the running back position? Those have accounted for at least one loss.
6. With games against the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks, the Giants have had a pretty tough non-division schedule.
7. Chew on this: the Giants haven’t lost to a team with a losing record. All of the teams they lost to are either in the playoffs or in the playoff hunt. You can downplay their wins, but you can’t say that they’ve lost to bad teams this year.