Here is this week's 'Friday Five' with Inside Football's Pat Traina. It will be our last regular-season edition this season, but let's hope it isn't our final one. These have been well received for the most part, so possibly we will look for ways to continue doing this at times during the off-season.
All of that said, let's get to the good stuff.Ed: Let's get right to it, and this is really two questions in one. Do you think Tom Coughlin should lose his job if the Giants do not make the playoffs, and especially if they lose Sunday? The second part, and it really is different, is with the labor situation and just a year left on his deal do you really think ownership would pull the trigger?
Pat: Let's start with Part 2 first. I am one of a few that thinks that a new CBA will be done before the new season is set to start. Now I'm not saying that some of the off-season won't be lost, but when push comes to shove, both sides have a lot to lose if this new CBA isn't done and I think they will somehow, someway get it done. Regardless if they get it done, I never have bought the argument that the lack of a season would stop a team from hiring a new coaching staff.
Remember when Coughlin was hired to coach Jacksonville? He and his staff were in place about a year and a half before the Jags played their first game. So if anything, if you bring in a new coaching staff, that's plenty of time for them to build their playbook, do their personnel evaluations and plan - teaching the intricacies of the systems can come with an aggressive, adjusted practice schedule (again remember that save for one three-day mini camp, all of the off-season stuff is voluntary.
And as many players have told me before, football is football wherever you go; it's just a matter of learning different philosophies and transferring that knowledge onto the field in most cases.
OK, now for the first part of your question, sadly yes, I do think Coughlin will be let go if they fail to make the playoffs. The players say they haven't tuned him out, but action speaks louder than words and after a while if a team isn't winning on a consistent basis, there needs to be a change.
Last year, Coughlin had all the injuries to fall back on. This year, that excuse is gone (and yes, I'm aware of the numbers on Injured reserve, but look at EXACTLY who's on IR and ask yourself how many of those guys were replaced).
If Coughlin had two more years on his contract, I'd say he gets a pass. One year? Well again, remember that he's earned the bulk of his money and just as teams keep players on injured reserve (many of whom are making far more per year than a coach), I could see them letting Coughlin go but paying him.
One last point (and sorry this is so long.) People say that bringing in a new coach in an uncertain labor environment is foolish. I disagree because if you think about it, every team is different every year. We know there is going to be an NFL draft this year.
Putting together the personnel is half of the battle (you have to figure that the coaching staff knows what type of system it's going to run and hence what kind of players it will need.) So the way I see it, a new coaching staff could at least provide input as to what personnel to keep and what to get while the playbook is being designed.
Ed: We always talk about a player when we do these, so let's talk about Eli 'Wrong Way' Manning. The 24 interceptions and having a ridiculous 4.7 percent of his passes picked off this year are a terrible indictment of Eli's play this season -- even though he has done many other very good things. What has happened to him? Do you believe he missed former QB coach Chris Palmer, or that the Giants -- whoever the coach may be next season -- need to 'step on Eli' a little, or a lot, more than they have been willing to the past couple of seasons?
Pat: Ah Ed, you're falling into the trap so many fans have fallen into. Look at EACH of Eli's interceptions before you call him "Wrong Way" Manning. While there have been some that were jut flat out stupid throws, I assure you you'll find a fair number that were tipped or happened because the receivers weren't where they were supposed to be.
Let me point out another thing here. Last year Eli and the passing game had its BEST season ever. Why? Because the receivers were all healthy and they knew the system. This year? Smith and Nicks have been in and out of the lineup and Barden went down. The result? They have had to plug in guys into the lineup and in this offense, simply plugging in a guy at receiver isn't as easy as it sounds.
The answer here, in my opinion, would have been to scale down the offense a bit to make it easier for the replacements to grasp. Yes, Eli has made some foolish decisions but I don't think you can put all of his interceptions on his shoulders.
Ed: Vinny DiTrani wrote the other day that the Giants have gotten away from the Coughlin mantra that worked so well in 2007, which basically was "play, don't talk." Unquestionably, I think there are a few Giants who love the media spotlight and love being 'personalities' as much as they love being football players. Do you believe Vinny has a point?
Pat: Well, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I said I didn't appreciate some of the media personalities they have if only because there never seems to be a shortage of what to write about. Anyway, as I remember, there were a few media personalities on that 2007 - and by that I mean guys who either did regular radio shows or who regularly spoke to the media. It's in their contract to cooperate with the media during the locker room period. And if the guys are being paid for doing weekly radio spots, then more power to them. With that said, I would agree that there are a few guys who seem to enjoy the media spotlight, even though they might claim the contrary.
Ed: Chris Snee, Antrel Rolle, Justin Tuck and, ridiculously, Shaun O'Hara have been named to the Pro Bowl. Now that the season is basically over which Giants would you vote to send to the Pro Bowl?
Pat: I'll tell you who I wouldn't have sent - O'Hara. No offense to Shaun, but I haven't been this outraged about a Giants Pro Bowl selection/non selection since 2008 when I thought Corey Webster and Madison Hedgecock both deserved to go. Who would I have sent? Tuck for sure. Rolle? Yes. Snee? Definitely. Kareem McKenzie? Yeah, I think you can make a case for him if you look at the film.
Ed: Perry Fewell has gotten a lot of credit for what the Giants did defensively most of the season. He has to take a hit for the awful play the last five quarters, though. What is your assessment of Fewell at this point?
Pat: I'm really not sure what to make of him. On one hand, I think he has this program on the right track and has been victimized at times by a lack of execution. But then there have been times when players have strongly hinted that they were outcoached. I think there are things to like about the defense - the forced turnovers and the sacks come to mind. But then there is the biggest issue, in my book, and that is I don't' think this defense really has an identity, e.g. a Tampa 2. It just seems to be a big mosaic, and I wonder if perhaps that's been a downside.