The day after the NFL season ends is known as Black Monday for NFL coaches. There will be a number of head coaches relieved of their duties after the 2013 regular season ends on Sunday, and despite the continued speculation from some corners it seems highly unlikely Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants will be among head coaches sent to the NFL unemployment line this time around.
Coughlin said this week that he believes he still has "something to prove" after a rough season.
"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," Coughlin said this week.
Let's not debate Coughlin's future. Since most signs point toward him coming back, let's work off the belief that the league's oldest coach will return in 2014.
Let's instead, debate how much of Coughlin's current coaching staff will remain with him. We will do that in three parts, focusing on the offensive staff, defensive staff and special teams. We have debated offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's fate extensively, so we will put the offensive staff off for a couple of days.
Today we talk specifically about the future of special teams coordinator Tom Quinn.
There was a time when I was leading the 'Fire Quinn' brigade, leading the charge against the enemy Quinn like Benjamin Martin leading the militia in 'The Patriot.' I have, for the most part, been off that bandwagon for the past couple of years.
After what has, aside from Josh Brown going 21-of-23 in field-goal attempts, been pretty much a complete meltdown by the Giants' special teams in 2013 it is time to re-examine Quinn.
The special teams have been miserable this season.
The Giants have allowed three punt returns of 80+ yards for touchdowns, surrendered a fourth on a bad snap and have given up 14.7 yards per punt return, 31st in the league. The Giants' net punting average of 39.6 yards per punt in 26th. The Giants are 25th in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing 22.4 yards per return.
The return game hasn't been any better. The Giants average 21.1 yards on kickoff returns (28th) and 7.9 yards on punt returns (24th).
Quinn has been Giants' special teams coordinator since 2007, and in that time the results on special teams have been a mixed bag. The Giants have done well at times in the return game with Wilson and Domenik Hixon. Weatherford and Jeff Feagles have provided excellent punting.
There have also been disasters. The Matt Dodge era. Being completely unprepared two straight seasons for onside kicks by David Akers -- one with the Philadelphia Eagles, one with the San Francisco 49ers. There has been an inability to be consistent in coverage, or in building a blocking scheme on kickoffs. Outside of Wilson's single season and a brief period of success by Hixon there has been an inability to find and develop returners. Jerrel Jernigan has the speed and elusiveness to be an excellent punt returner, but Quinn has never been able to teach him to catch the ball consistently.
This season there have been several offside penalties on punts to go along with the poor coverage.
In the past Coughlin has defended calls for Quinn's job by saying that it isn't always the scheme that is to blame and that he has faith in Quinn because the coordinator knows what Coughlin wants done.
It is sometimes tough to blame a special teams coordinator for problems. Special teams' woes like the Giants have suffered this season are often an indication that a team lacks depth, and you can certainly say that has been the case with the injury-ravaged Giants. There just isn't enough talent on this roster, and that was probably true before injuries struck.
The case against Quinn is this. Look back over the years he has been in charge of special teams and rarely, if ever, have the Giants had an advantage in that department. They have been, at best, average. At worst? Atrocious. There always seems to a leak, a weakness, somewhere. Over the years there has been too much talent on the roster for the special teams to be as inconsistent as they have been.
Will Quinn stay or go? After missing the playoffs four times in five seasons the Giants have to make some changes, even if they aren't as far-ranging as many fans anticipate.
My guess is that Quinn goes. This might be the easiest, and most palatable change for the fiercely-loyal Coughlin to make, especially since the Giants seem to have an in-hour replacement. Larry Izzo has been Quinn's assistant for three seasons. Izzo was a three-time Pro Bowler as a special teams player during a 13-year career, and at 39 might be ready to move up.
Vote in our poll and let us know if you believe Quinn will return next season. Note that we are not asking if you believe he SHOULD return. We are asking if you believe he WILL return.
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