New York Giants' co-owner John Mara said Tuesday that the organization would keep Tom Coughlin as head coach for the 2015 season. Coughlin, in turn, defended Perry Fewell and Tom Quinn and sounded very much like he was leaning toward keeping both embattled assistant coaches on his staff.
Did you really expect anything else from the Giants?
Yes, there have been back-to-back losing seasons. Yes, Mara knows the fans are unhappy. Mara himself said of the losing that "I do not stomach this very well."
Because it's not the way the Giants do business. They don't make rash, emotional decisions. They don't make change for the sake of change -- or to temporarily mute the howling of unhappy fans. Patience. Stability. Finding good people and sticking with them as long as possible. Giving those people a chance to clean up their own messes. That's how the Giants have always done business.
They simply don't fire general managers. They don't fire head coaches unless they believe their on-field product is broken beyond that coaches ability to fix it. They have won four Super Bowl titles this way, so they won't re-invent the wheel.
"I still believe, very strongly, in Jerry Reese and our organization. We have a lot of quality people working here. We have had two very strong drafts in a row. We need to have another one. I think with that and with another year under this new offense, we have a chance to be a good team next year," Mara said on Tuesday. "Obviously, that is a tough sell right now when you go 7-9 and 6-10, but I still have a very strong belief in this staff and in this organization."
Mara also still believes in Coughlin.
"I still believe we can win with him. If I didn't believe that, then it wouldn't have mattered how many Super Bowls he won in the past. It would be senseless to go forward with him," he said on Tuesday. "I look at how hard the players played for him and how attentive they still are. I look at his energy level and how much he still wants to win and how driven he is. That is what convinced Steve and myself to move forward with him."
Not that Mara has blinders on. He knows there have been three straight playoff-less seasons. He knows the won-loss record has gotten worse each year. He knows it's been eons since the Giants have beaten a good team. He acknowledged that that it would not be "an unfair statement" to call 2015 a 'win or else' season.
That, really, shouldn't surprise anyone, either. It has really been apparent since the massive overhaul the Giants underwent after the 2013 season that the expiration date on Mara's patience with and trust in Coughlin's ability to get things right once again was 2015.
Coughlin's current contract is up after next season. Mara said he didn't know yet if he would stick with the organization's long-held tradition of not allowing a coach to be a lame duck by offering him an extension. Doesn't matter. Extension or not, Mara made it perfectly clear that next season is Coughlin's last stand.
There is also symmetry because 2015 is also the last year of quarterback Eli Manning's contract.
Coughlin joked Tuesday about wanting a 10-year extension, but said "I don't think he's [Mara] going to speak to me about that one."
Coughlin knows the score. When asked about his future he usually deflects with humor or says it's not about him. There was a little glimpse Tuesday, though, that Coughlin understands that his legacy, how he will be remembered, will be shaped by how his tenure ends.
He said "I don't want to be associated with losing." He also said "I don't like that borderline stuff" when told Mara called him a borderline Hall of Fame coach.
Coughlin has been here before, on the precipice of being forced out of a job he clearly doesn't want to leave. He knows the feeling.
"I'm standing on the edge of the cliff," he said on Tuesday. "What's the cliff look like? I usually look the other way."
If Coughlin believes Fewell, Quinn and the other assistant coaches currently in his employ are the guys who can help him fight his way off that cliff, so be it.
"Tom is a Super Bowl-winning, potential Hall of Fame head coach. It shouldn't be up to me to tell him that he needs to change position coaches or coordinators. I think he is more qualified to make that judgment than I am," Mara said. "He knows that his legacy is kind of on the line here now. He doesn't want to have three losing seasons in a row. If he thinks he needs to make a change and he thinks there is somebody better out there, then he will go do it."
During his Giants' tenure, Coughlin has always done his best work while teetering on the edge of that cliff. He will try to do so again in 2015.
"Why am I here? I'm here because I want to win. What do you think I'm doing? Sitting up in the office with my feet up? The competitive spirit ... You're in this to win. You're in this to try to beat the other guy," Coughlin said. "I'm as sick and disappointed as anybody in the last few years, but you know what? How are you going to do anything about it other than fight and swing and get back out there and try harder? What else are you going to do? Are you going to go crawl in a corner? No, I'm not going to do that."
Get ready for what looks like Tom's Last Stand in 2015. It promises to be a quite a fight.