For years, much of the argument for Tom Coughlin to remain as head coach of the New York Giants despite back-to-back losing records has been centered around the idea that whatever the results the team was playing hard for the coach. After starting a miserable 0-6 in 2013, they did and rallied to a 7-9 finish. After a seven-game losing streak in 2014, they won three straight.
This season, though, it is difficult if not impossible to make that argument. Especially after the Giants embarrassed themselves, their coach, and their organization with a pathetic display Sunday night in a 49-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The have now lost five of six and -- with the exception of a handful of players -- played with no passion, no urgency. They played like they didn't care that jobs -- theirs, those of the coaches and possibly even the general manager's -- were on the line.
Giants' Pride. Hardly. A massive team-wide "Wet Willie" for a locker room full of players who expressed love and admiration for the man but went out on the field and probably helped only to end his coaching career.
While I'm at it, a "Wet Willie" to GM Jerry Reese, as well. This is seven of eight years now that the Giants have not made the playoffs. It is Reese's draft and free-agent decisions that have created the talent-less roster Coughlin has been saddled with for the past three seasons. Trying to make chicken soup out of chicken-you-know-what and failing for years now has left Coughlin broken and despondent. All you had to do was watch his post-game press conference Sunday night to see that clearly. Should you care to rehash them, Pat Traina went through some of the roster moves that have left the Giants' cupboard bare.
Would Giants' HC job interest Josh McDaniels?
Some think the New England offensive coordinator would find New York a "perfect fit."
While it is certainly seems the time has come where the Giants need to move in a different direction at head coach, Reese undoubtedly shares in the blame for this mess. In fact, it isn't difficult at all to make the case that the GM deserves more blame than the head coach. The players who haven't been able to make the playoffs seven of eight years and have now gone through three straight losing years are, after all, the ones Reese decided should be Giants. No matter who the coach is going forward, the Giants won't win until they do a better job giving him more than a couple of talented players to work with.
The Giants will never outright fire Coughlin. He has done too much for the franchise, and ownership has too much love and respect for him. I have believed for a while that if a change is made that Coughlin will step aside on his own, and wrote as much on Sunday. What I saw Sunday made, both during and after the game, only made that belief grow stronger.
No, Coughlin is not perfect. Far from it. He has made mistakes, in both game management and personnel. Coughlin is, however, fighting a losing battle with rosters that are anywhere from mediocre to awful, and with players who don't appear to be buying what he is selling any longer. Why would he continue to put himself through that?
Now, let's dole out a handful of individual "Kudos & Wet Willie."
Kudos to ...
Rashad Jennings -- The only time the Giants looked like they had something resembling a competent professional offense was when they were giving the ball to Jennings. The veteran running back had 74 yards on 14 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and two receptions for 62 yards. That gave Jennings 136 of the Giants 363 total yards, or 37 percent.
Landon Collins -- The rookie safety has really turned a corner since dropping an interception against the New England Patriots that would have allowed the Giants to win that game. Spending most of his time playing closer to the line of scrimmage instead of in a center field capacity, Collins was excellent against the run with eight tackles. If you are looking for building blocks for the Giants' defense, Collins is definitely one.
Robert Ayers -- The defensive end, a free-agent-to-be, is waging a strong campaign to return to the Giants. He had 1.5 sacks to bring his team-leading total to eight. Ayers also had three hits on Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Per Pro Football Focus, Ayers +2.7 grade was the highest on the defense, and he now multiple quarterback pressures in 16 consecutive games.
Wet Willies to ...
Wide receivers -- The Giants got a broken-play 72-yard touchdown on a pass to Rueben Randle, and Myles White made a tough catch for a 25-yard score on a pass from Ryan Nassib. Truth is, though, without Odell Beckham Jr. the Giants' wide receivers didn't help Eli Manning at all. Not even a little bit. On the night, the wide receivers were targeted 16 times and had only seven receptions. Randle ran Manning into a Pick 6 by running a poor route and then stopping altogether. No one could get open. Dwayne Harris dropped the first pass of the night, a sign of things to come. A wide-open White dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a fourth-and-1. Really an awful display.
Craig Dahl -- What in heaven's name was the veteran safety doing on the 25-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota's first touchdown of the night. Dahl made no real effort to re-direct Rudolph at the line of scrimmage, then simply ran alongside him with the ball in the air and watched as Rudolph hauled it in. Dahl helps the Giants on special teams, and probably in the meeting room as a mentor for Collins, but on the field he is a major liability. He doesn't have the speed or athleticism to cover, and he has no real ability to react to or play the ball in the air.
Pass protection -- By the end, I was thinking about 2013. That year, the porous Giants' offensive line got Manning injured in the season finale and he ended up needing ankle surgery. Sunday night, Manning was sacked four times, hit eight others and harassed constantly during 33 dropbacks. It was a relief when Nassib entered the game for the Giants' final drive.