Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants becomes the 13th man in NFL history to be a head coach for 300 games when the Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday afternoon. Hooray for that, and for all that Coughlin has done in his illustrious coaching career. The question, though, is how many more games will there be in that career?
Will Coughlin's coaching career, at least with the Giants and most likely anywhere since he is the league's oldest coach at 68, end once the Giants complete their final five games of this season? Will Coughlin be back for a 12th season with the Giants and 20th as an NFL head coach in 2015? His contract runs through next season.
Maybe Coughlin and co-owner John Mara already know the answer to that question. Maybe they don't. Maybe how hard and how well the Giants play over the next five games will have something to do with who coaches the Giants next season.
There are both valid reasons to keep the venerable head coach, and valid reasons to move on. Unless you are showing up here at Big Blue View for the first time, you know that I believe Coughlin deserves another year, that he deserves a chance to finish the re-construction the Giants started last off-season and get the franchise once again moving in the right direction. You know that I believe GM Jerry Reese and whoever is advising him in the Giants college and pro scouting departments deserves more blame than they have gotten, both for not bringing in enough talent and for handing Coughlin and his coaching staff too many players who don't fit the mold of what Coughlin wants.
No matter which side you are on, you can make a case that has merit. No matter which side of the argument you are on, you also need to recognize Coughlin deserves thanks from Giants loyalists. Disappointed though you are right now, those two titles the Giants have won since 2007 probably don't happen without Coughlin's guidance. Is he the best coach ever? No. Does he have flaws? Undoubtedly. Here is how Coughlin stacks up record-wise against the 12 other men who have coached at least 300 NFL games.
|Tom Coughlin||2||161||138||0 (299 games)|
Coughlin does not deserve to be fired, to be unceremoniously shoved out the door with a "we don't want you anymore" kick in the rear end. If this is the end for Coughlin, he deserves to be celebrated and properly thanked for the titles and for the way he has represented the franchise.
What Coughlin also does not deserve is the right to hold the franchise hostage. Some believe that Coughlin himself deserves to decide when it is his time to go, and that's not correct. It can't be. Coughlin doesn't own the franchise, The Mara and Tisch families do. It is on them to decide what is best.
The last few seasons haven't been what anyone has wanted. Blame Coughlin if you want. Blame Reese if you want. Blame Eli Manning. Blame Mara. Blame the injury Gods. Blame global warming. What matters, really, is how the Giants choose to try to fix it.
Coughlin could well end the debate by walking away at the end of the year. It wouldn't shock me at all if he did. The losing is undoubtedly eating at him, you can hear the resignation in his voice. Read between the lines of some of the things Reese has said about playing time and Coughlin has said about unproductive players, and it's pretty apparent the GM and the coach aren't always in perfect harmony. Maybe Coughlin tires of that, tires of watching his players play bad football and steps away.
I still believe the scenario that Giants' ownership has hoped for, and would still like to see come to fruition, is that Coughlin completes his current contract, Ben McAdoo proves worthy of taking over and that a change is made then. Things could change if the Giants lose to the Jaguars today and the season ends with a three- or four-win dumpster fire. There there really is no choice but to start over. As of now, though, my guess is this remains the most likely scenario.