Tom Coughlin will not be fired. Nor should he be fired. A 'Wet Willie' for all of you screaming for TC's head in the wake of this disappointing season.
Calling for Coughlin's dismissal is an emotional over-reaction to a bitterly disappointing season. A season of high expectations that has been lost in a sea of horrific defense, putrid special teams play and missed opportunities.
To be honest, I can't believe I am writing today about Coughlin's status as head coach. But, in the wake of some of the comments following Sunday's game I felt I had to. So, I am going to do it here today. Then I am not going to do it again. Because the idea of firing Coughlin is absurd.
"If you're not a fan of the Colts, then your team isn't going to win 12+ games and make the playoffs every single year. That's the reality of the NFL. ... Anyone calling for Coughlin's head is delusional. This, at worst, is an 8-8 football team this year. That means that in TC's six seasons, this team has finished .500 or better in all but one of them, gone to the playoffs in all but two of them, and won a Super Bowl."
The buzz around the league is that big-name coaches like Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and -- eventually -- Jon Gruden are available. It's pretty instructive to compare TC's track record to each of them.
Coughlin -- Fourteen seasons, eight playoff appearances, five division championships, a Super Bowl title and a .552 career regular-season winning percentage. Keep in mind also that TC's first job was with an expansion team, and it took him just two years to get that team into the playoffs.
- Cowher -- Fifteen seasons, 10 playoff appearances, nine division championships, a Super Bowl title and a .51 career regular-season winning percentage.
- Shanahan -- Sixteen seasons, two Super Bowl titles, only seven playoff appearances and a .598 regular-season winning percentage.
- Gruden -- Eleven seasons, one Super Bowl title, only five playoff appearances and a .540 regular-season winning percentage.
So, Coughlin compares favorably with each of these big-name coaches a slew of NFL teams would love to have. He IS one of those big-name, big-time coaches. If TC was available today, those same teams would be lining up begging him to come and rescue them.
Look a little deeper, particularly at Cowher. In his first six seasons in Pittsburgh, the Steelers made the playoffs. Then, they went 6-10, 7-9, 9-7 and missed the playoffs three straight times. Still, the Pittsburgh organization recognized what it had. After two more playoff appearances, the Steelers stumbled to 6-10 in 2003. Still, Cowher stayed. Pittsburgh was rewarded with a 15-1 record in 2004, and a Super Bowl title in 2005.
Philadelphia's Andy Reid is another great example. He has been with the Eagles 11 years now, including a 6-10 season in 2005 and an 8-8 mark in 2007. Where are the Eagles now? Looking, quite possibly, like the best team in the NFC.
Sometimes, no matter what the coach does the players he is working with just are not good enough. That is the case with this Giants team -- especially on the defensive side of the ball. To flip-flop Dennis Green's famous remark, these defensive players are not who we thought they were.
We thought this was a dominant defensive group that would carry this team deep into the playoffs. Instead, it turned out to be an aging, injured, un-athletic group that spent much of the season getting physically dominated. Bad defense is the primary reason the 2009 Giants are not a playoff team.
Blame Coughlin for hiring Bill Sheridan if you want. Remember, though, that TC's first choice for the job was Dom Capers, who ended up in Green Bay. With no shot at Capers, TC chose to give the players something they wanted -- system continuity -- by hiring Sheridan.
It, obviously, has not worked. But, as much as you want to blame Sheridan you also have to blame players for poor tackling, bad coverage, blown assignments and getting dominated at the line of scrimmage. They got what they wanted, and proceeded to play some of the worst defense in the history of the franchise.
The Giants undoubtedly need to make some changes to get back to the top. The head coach is not one of them, however.
He is part of the solution.