I would like to preface this article with the disclaimer that yes, I do know these are human beings whose jobs are on the line, and there is nothing funny about someone losing their job at any level, and yes, I also know that said people are markedly more intelligent in the area of football than I will ever be, but this is a game. That's it. Sometimes we forget that because it's super easy to drift into the dark nether-regions of concussion lawsuits, unfair collegiate exploitation, and general criminal behavior, but for the purposes of my job -- which is to produce this article -- I'm going to try and keep the tone light, and remember that this is a game. Men don costumes and throw a ball to one another for millions of dollars. The men that I have to write about, the New York Giants, are bad at this game.
If each game this season had ended with 75 seconds left in regulation, the Giants would be 10-2. But they are 5-7. https://t.co/3KPPdRVIvq— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) December 8, 2015
Losing is bad, but losing to your local rival in overtime because you make poor decisions is much worse. The failed fourth-down attempt in Sunday's game against the New York Jets was a huge talking point once the final whistle blew and it became clear that attempting to convert -- rather than kicking a field-goal to gain a 23-10 lead with 8:50 remaining in the game -- was the wrong choice. We all realize that now. Well, almost all of us.
In his post-game press-conference, head coach Tom Coughlin doubled-down on the call. "After a long drive, and the amount of time used up in the drive, I thought that was the play at that time. I still do." Man, hating on Coughlin is really difficult, because he seems like a nice man, and he has given so much to this franchise, but this round-and-round in circles thing where nobody ever learns from their mistakes is getting really difficult to endure.
Earlier this year, the Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys after kicking a dying-minutes field-goal despite reaching the 1-yard line. This put them up by six points, with less than two minutes to go, yet they still lost: 27-26. With this single-point loss looking worse by the week, Coughlin didn't want a repeat performance. He wanted the kill-shot. The problem was that this may seem like a similar scenario when described in its most basic form -- a fourth-down call where a touchdown probably seals the game -- but I cannot emphasize enough that there is a huge difference between kicking a field-goal to go up by six, and kicking to go up by 13.
With a couple of minutes left in the Cowboys game, the Giants would have a two-score lead if they had gotten a touchdown and the game would be all but over. Against the Jets, the Giants already had a two-score lead, and could have pushed it two a two-touchdown lead with a chip-shot field-goal. The time remaining is important because most people presumed the Cowboys were capable of sprinting down the field and getting seven points before the clock ran out, and that's what happened, so a six-point lead was useless.
Against the Jets, the Giants would have been up by 13, forcing the Jets to need two touchdowns in the final nine minutes after only scoring once in the previous 51 minutes. The Giants got greedy, like a Bond villain taking his time to inflict pain with a complicated torture device on the captured hero, rather than just finishing the job with a simple bullet, so it wasn't surprising when Manning's pass got jumbled during Rueben Randle's poor route running and ended up in the hands of a defender. You get zero points. You let the hero escape. You lost the game. "I thought that was the play at that time." Fair enough, Coughlin can't outright say that he doesn't trust his defense, because that's not how leaders work. "I still do." The fatal flaw is revealed; hubris.
Other teams are making it look easy, so I too decided to get seven points on the Giants defense.
- When the opponent attempts a pass on first-and-10, they gain an average of 9.4 yards per attempt.
- This season, the Giants have allowed 12 passing touchdowns in the first three quarters, and 11 passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
- After another bad week, the Giants are on pace to push the record for most passing yards allowed to beyond the 5,000 yards mark for the first time in history.
- The defense need 10 sacks in the final four games just to equal their franchise-worst team total of 25 sacks.
- The Giants' defense has 96 penalties this year (fifth most).
- Opposing offenses score 39.1 percent of the time they have the ball (sixth worst).
- The Giants defense gives up 36.6 yards per opposing possession (worst in the league)
The Laughably Painful
The 2015 Giants have lost five games in which they were leading with two minutes or fewer remaining. The last team to do this was the 2001 San Diego Chargers -- a team that finished 5-11, a year after finishing 1-15 and earning the first pick in the draft, and after failing to see the necessary improvement, fired their head coach. Should the Giants follow in their footsteps to close out the season with a 5-11 record, you would have to think that they too would take similar action.
And they'd be right. Coughlin was a great coach -- past tense -- but his last six teams have made the playoffs just once. At some point, the sheen of a championship wears off and you need to be judged like any other coach in the league. Patience is key, but ignorance is disaster. The rose-tinted bullet-proof glass of Coughlin's job security will eventually buckle under fire and he needs to get out before that happens.
To give you an impression of just how bad Coughlin's Giants have been of late, should they lose their remaining four games, Coughlin's regular season winning percentage with Big Blue (.526) would be lower than that of when he was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (.531). This is a man who won two Super Bowls for New York (two!) yet may end his career having won a higher ratio of games for a bunch of teal-clad expansion Floridians. This is how you destroy a legacy.