The New York Giants are broken. As they enter their bye week after 10 games -- they can't be enjoying the bye after two straight losses -- the fact that they are broken is undeniable. The question is, can head coach Tom Coughlin put Humpty Dumpty back together. Again.
Coughlin has done this before, something everyone who follows the Giants knows.
In 2007 the Giants started 0-2 and had to scratch their way into the playoffs. They did, then went on a magical run that culminated with a Super Bowl victory over the thought-to-be-invincible 18-0 New England Patriots.
Last season the Giants staggered to a 7-7 record and had to win their last two games just to reach the playoffs. They did, then went on another magical run that culminated with yet another victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
So yes, Coughlin has shown that he CAN put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Thing is, he hasn't always been able to do it.
In Coughlin's nine seasons as head coach the Giants have always started fast, reaching the halfway point of the season (eight games) with at least five victories in each of his nine seasons. Only those two Super Bowl seasons, however, have really ended well for Coughlin and the Giants.
In 2009 the Giants started 5-0 and finished 8-8, missing the playoffs.
In 2010 the Giants began 6-2 but lost two of their last three games, finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs.
So, the story has not always had a happy ending. There is no doubt that it could have a happy ending this time around, but counting on it year after year is problematic. And, obviously, does not always end well.
Coughlin and the Giants are 6-4 and lead the NFC East, but they have a myriad of problems to fix.
On offense, the passing attack has gone south. Eli Manning can't throw ball straight, or to the right team. Receivers can't get open, or catch. The offensive line is turning into a sieve. The running game has been unreliable, at best. The big plays the Giants live on have vanished.
On defense, the Giants continue week after week to have breakdowns in coverage that result in big plays being given up. The run defense is OK sometimes, but awful way too often. The pass-rushing defensive ends are not putting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
On special teams, the Giants' punt coverage team has seemingly decided punter Steve Weatherford not only has to kick the ball but that it is also his job to make the tackles. The return teams are getting nothing accomplished. Lawrence Tynes is a field-goal making machine, but he is being asked to kick waaaaay too many of them.
The Giants' schedule over the final six games is brutal. They face the Green Bay Packers (6-3), go on the road for a division game against the Washington Redskins, host the resurgent New Orleans Saints, who have won four of five, travel to face the Atlanta Falcons (8-1) and Baltimore Ravens (7-2) and finish the season with a division game against the Philadelphia Eagles. There is not a single game in there the Giants can take for granted.
Sure, Coughlin might be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together one more time. Then again, he might not.
Why, though, does it always come down to this for the Giants?