The New York Giants have ended two consecutive years with late-season meltdowns that have sabotaged their playoff hopes and aspirations. That's usually enough to get a coach fired, but the team has announced that Tom Coughlin will remain as head coach for 2011. While many may disagree with that decision, it's the right call in this case. Why? Here's why.
1. A coach can only control so much on the field of play. Coughlin didn't fumble the ball, nor did he throw 25 interceptions. He benched Ahmad Bradshaw when his turnovers were out of control, but Brandon Jacobs fumbled the ball as well. Coughlin can't bench everybody. Did you really want Danny Ware starting the last four games of the season? And what was he supposed to do with Eli Manning? How many times can you tell a quarterback to stop throwing interceptions? One player personnel move Coughlin could have made months ago was to jettison Matt Dodge, but that falls on Jerry Reese, as well.
2. Part of the Giants' identity as a franchise is stability. The team has been family owned since the beginning, going all the way back to 1925. They've only gone through three general managers in the last 30 or so years. And they want their coach to stick around for a long time, too. These aren't the 1970s/'80s New York Yankees, firing a manager every time George Steinbrenner sneezes.
3. Who out there is better than Tom Coughlin? Bill Cowher is pretty much a carbon copy of Coughlin. What will he do that Coughlin can't do? Anybody else? Jon Gruden, maybe. But again, what has he accomplished that Coughlin hasn't? Can Cowher or Gruden get Bradshaw and Manning to stop turning the ball over? What can they do that Coughlin can't? Maybe Coughlin's been living off his Super Bowl win for too long now, but that doesn't mean he's not a good coach.
4. This isn't a Mets-like case with a country-club-like atmosphere reigning over the clubhouse. If Coughlin was letting players walk all over him, with a laid-back approach, maybe a hard-core disciplinarian is in order. But Coughlin's already the disciplinarian the team needs.
5. With labor unrest right around the corner, is this the time to rip things up and start over?
So what should the Giants do? Change the players. It might be time for a new running back or two, some linebackers, and concentrating on special teams for a change might be a good idea. They should also revamp the assistant coaching staff. Again, special teams was a disaster this year. How about starting with a new coach? And something needs to be done with Manning. A new quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator--something needs to change, as Manning's not going anywhere.
Should Tom Coughlin be held accountable for the way the last two seasons have ended? Of course. But will firing him make the team better? That's the question. And the answer is, "probably not." Of course, if the Giants miss the playoffs next year . . .