I began beating the drum for special teams coordinator Tom Quinn to be replaced way back in January.
That was shortly after John Mara's 'status quo is not acceptable' speech, and after the firings of then-defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and defensive line coach Mike Waufle.
Yet, despite Mara's proclamation and the pitiful performance of the special teams in 2009, Quinn is still special teams coordinator.
Tom Coughlin termed special teams play "horrible" during his post-game press conference the other day, and he was right. Now Coughlin, while rejecting the idea that Quinn might be the problem, is hinting that some more starters may be asked to pull special teams duty.
"We certainly have not done anything with our return game. We did not cover. We talked about coming out after the half and covering the kick and then being able to play good solid defense, get the ball back, that type of thing. They got the ball at the 48-yard line," Coughlin said. "There are some areas that have definitely got to be improved...if it's nothing more than field position. Let's not let the other guys start at midfield."
Special teams captain Chase Blackburn says the problem is simply lack of execution.
"It’s not a lack of effort," Blackburn said. "It’s a lack of discipline. Not everyone believing in everything and being on the same page at all times."
The key part of that for me is where Blackburn said "not everyone believing in everything." I have seen enough training camp workouts to know how much emphasis Coughlin puts on it, and that the Giants work on it every day. Blackburn's quote, though, is a stark admission that the Giants aren't buying what Quinn is selling.
I have to admit the spectre of facing punt returner Devin Hester and kickoff returner Johnnie Knox this weekend is not giving me pleasant dreams. Oh, and toss in the fact that Chicago blocked a field goal Monday night and this could be a gruesome Sunday night for the Giants on special teams.
We constantly see mistakes in coverage leading to long returns. We see indecision from Darius Reynaud on whether he should bring the ball out of the end zone. We constantly see him with no chance by the time he hits the 15-yard line on kickoffs he does return. We see no place to go on punt returns. We saw an unheard of delay of game on a field goal. We've seen assignment breakdowns lead to blocked punts.
Quinn took over as special teams coach in 2007, and his deficiencies were masked by a magical Super Bowl run. In truth, though, the Giants special teams have not been good the entire team he has been in charge.
Have you noticed how well placekicker Lawrence Tynes has been striking the ball this season, on both kickoffs and field goals? Yes, I know he missed a 43-yarder Sunday, but I'm never killing a kicker for a miss outside 40 yards.
You know what the biggest difference in Tynes is this season? He has stopped listening to Quinn, who has had Tynes monkeying with his mechanics the past couple of seasons, and basically gone back to kicking the ball the way he always kicked it pre-Quinn. The results have been startlingly better. Quinn even tried to get then-punter Jeff Feagles, one of the best ever, to make mechanical adjustments a year ago. Foolishness.
The Giants have shuffled special teams players again and again the past couple of seasons, and still the problem remains.
It mystifies me that the Giants have never been able to see that the biggest problem on special teams is not the players they are using. It's the guy trying to coordinate them.