The offseason has thus far been whirlwind of activity for the Giants' brass, leaving them no time to take deal with one essential piece of business they need to wrap up before offseason stretches too much further. That would be the contract of head coach Tom Coughlin.
The 67-year-old (68 when the 2014 season starts) Coughlin is entering the final season of his contract. Coughlin, the elder stateseman among NFL coaches, says he is still "just a young guy in this business," and that he would hope to continue coaching for several seasons beyond 2014.
Giants' co-owner John Mara has indicated that the Giants want Coughlin to be the head coach "next year and hopefully for longer than that." Discussions about an extension have yet to take place, however, mostly because both sides have been swamped with other things to do.
Well, now that many of those 'other things to do' have been done, it is time for the Giants and Coughlin to get down to brass tacks and reach a consensus on his contract.
Free agency starts March 11. You would have to believe the Giants would want Coughlin's contract status settled long before then, possibly even before the NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 22-25.
Should Coughlin get a one-year extension from the Giants? He is probably going year-to-year at this point, anyway, but that puts them right back in this same situation a year from now. Should the Giants give Coughlin a two-year extension, showing him they do believe he has the energy, passion and ability to coach until he is at least 70? Should they not give him an extension at all, putting the screws to him by making him go into 2014 as a lame-duck coach after missing the playoffs the past two seasons?
It seems highly unlikely the Giants, with the tremendous respect Coughlin carries throughout the organization, would take the latter approach. An extension of at least a year seems almost certain, and it seems like the right thing to do.
That isn't to say that Coughlin deserves a free pass for the shortcomings of the past two seasons, or that an extension means Coughlin gets to choose when and how he leaves the Giants' sidelines. As Mara said during his season-ending press conference, "It’s very tough to have an exit strategy in the National Football League."
An extension, even for a single year, simply lends stability and likely provides a more attractive situation for prospective free agents. It also helps Coughlin maintain his authority around the players.
Media pundits love to figure out which coaches are on what is commonly referred to as the "hot seat." Coughlin deserves to coach the Giants in 2014, but you have to believe Coughlin's seat is warm entering the season.
Mara is a patient man, and loyalty and stability have properly been staples of the Giants' organization for decades. There is, however, no mistaking the fact that Mara -- and a fan base that left a lot of empty seats at MetLife Stadium during the waning weeks of the 2013 season -- have been unhappy with what has gone on since the middle of the 2012 season.
"The second half of 2012 and this season has not been a good season and a half for us and I'm not very happy about it and they know I'm not very happy about it, but neither is anybody else," Mara said. "We were bitterly disappointed with the results this year. I think our fans deserve better and we vow that we'll do everything that we have to do to improve the team for next season."
Mara said at the end of the season that the offense was "broken." Since then the Giants have completely revamped the offensive coaching staff and will likely bring in plenty of new personnel before the 2014 season. Coughlin has embraced those changes, whether or not he they were his idea, and appears genuinely excited about beginning a new chapter.
Coughlin still has the support of Mara and the Giants' organization, thanks to two Super Bowl titles since 2007 and what has largely been an excellent decade of Giants' football since his arrival in 2004. It stands to reason, though, that a third straight playoff-less season in 2014 would lead to a thorough examination of whether or not Coughlin was still the right man for the job. No one wants the ugly scenario of the Giants having to push Coughlin out the door when he isn't ready to go, but that could be where things are headed if the Giants miss the playoffs again.
Right now, though? Give the man an extension. It's the correct thing to do.