New York Giants firing line: Tom Quinn should be next

How does special teams coach Tom Quinn still have a job with the New York Giants?

Bill Sheridan is gone, quickly held accountable for the putrid defense the Giants played in 2009. So is defensive line coach Mike Waufle, whose unit clearly had gone backwards since the dominant 2007 season.

The Giants, expected to be Super Bowl contenders are coming off an embarrassing 8-8 season, and the organization is clearly in the mood to make changes. As John Mara was quite clear about, "The status quo is not acceptable."

So, I ask again. Why does Quinn still have a job?

Quinn, 41, took over the Giants special teams when the highly-regarded Mike Sweatman retired ater the 2006 season. Super Bowl victory or not, the Giants special teams have been terrible ever since.

Let's look at the 2009 numbers, specifically. These are from NFL.com.

  • The Giants ranked 28th in the league in kickoff returns with a paltry 20.9 yards per return average. This despite having, I believe, an above-average return man in Domenik Hixon. I do have to give some credit, though, since the Giants finished tied for sixth in punt returns with a 10.9-yard average. That, I think, is mostly due to Hixon's individual skill.
  • Lawrence Tynes, despite changes made to allegedly improve his kickoffs, was 26th in the league in kickoff distance and had just six touchbacks. Of course, all those annoying, 'strategic' short kickoffs didn't help. Aren't we all sick of watching those 'pooch' kicks come down at the 25, pretty much guaranteeing giving up a starting field position around the 40-yard line?
  • Despite having possibly the best directional punter in the history of the game in Jeff Feagles, the Giants were tied for 29th in the league with a 36.0 yard net punting average. Feagles may have slipped some, but there is also a belief that Quinn meddled -- forcing a change in style and all but demanding that kicks were often directed out of bounds. Feagles tied for the league-lead with 17 kicks out of bounds.

Numbers found at Pro Football Focus provide an even bigger indictment of the Giants special teams.

Using its unique +/- grading system, PFF puts the Giants special teams at -13.7 for the season. Let's compare that to the teams that qualified for the playoffs.

New York Jets (+32.8), Cincinnati Bengals (-0.4), Baltimore Ravens (+20.2), New England Patriots (+12.5), Arizona Cardinals (+21.5), Green Bay Packers (-1.0), Dallas Cowboys (+22.5), Philadelphia Eagles (+24.3).

It is plain to see from those numbers how critical special teams are to making the playoffs. Only the Bengals and Packers are average to below average on special teams.

Go back even further. Even in the Super Bowl year of 2007, Quinn's first as coordinator, the Giants were -10.2 on special teams. Last season they were -9.3, with only outstanding work by Feagles saving them from being even worse.

Please, don't try to tell me poor special teams play is an indication of a dearth of talent. It can be, sure, but not with this team. The Giants won the 2007 Super Bowl, were 11-1 at one point in 2008 and were thought to have championship level talent entering 2009. They have had plenty of talent to get the job done.

So, why haven't they? Whether it is poor schemes, poor strategic choices, poor use of available personnel I don't know. I just know it has to fall on Quinn. And a change needs to be made.

So, why does he still have a job? Beats me. Hopefully, he won't have the Giants job much longer.

Believe me, I am no expert when it comes to available assistant coaches. I can't tell you for sure who the Giants should bring in. I do have one suggestion, though. The Giants had better at least talk to Bobby April, who was recently let go in the purge by the Buffalo Bills.

Here is what Buffalo Rumblings said about April when he was fired.

April leaves the Bills after six seasons as Buffalo's special teams coordinator, including the last four as Assistant Head Coach. Under April's tutelage, Buffalo's special teams units have consistently been among the league's top units, producing three No. 1 rankings from the Dallas Morning News and several star specialists, including kick returner Terrence McGee, punt returner Roscoe Parrish and punter Brian Moorman.

The ESPN report indicates that April was "livid" when, after the firing of Dick Jauron on November 17, Perry Fewell got the call as interim head coach instead of him. It's hard to blame him - he was the Assistant Head Coach, after all. Regarded as one of the finest and most innovative special teams coordinators in the league, it's highly unlikely that April will be out of work for long.

Give this guy some praise, folks. He's an outstanding coach that's been stuck in poor situations throughout the entirety of his Bills coaching career. He'll most definitely be missed.

That's a pretty good endorsement. No way April has been working with the talent in Buffalo that would be available to him with the Giants.

So, why does Tom Quinn still have a job?

(E-mail Ed at bigblueview@gmail.com)

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