The New York Football Giants have not smelled the NFL playoffs since their Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots after the 2011 season, and that fact does not figure to change this year. At almost every turn, the Giants have fumbled the 2014 season like a wet football on an astro-turf field in December. The list of faux pas appears to be endless, and it begins with the ownership team’s overabundance of loyalty to a general manager and management team that has not produced NFL quality football for over two years.
After making several roster adjustments after 2012, the team underwent an overhaul after the 2013 season. After last season, the designated scapegoat was offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who was reported to have retired, but that definition seemed like a stretch at the time, and does not seem any more plausible today. With another season of blowouts and embarrassing losses, even the uber-patient Giants’ ownership cannot stand pat again this off season with only minor changes.
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com does not believe that a decision on the head coach’s future has been made yet, however, as yesterday he wrote, “I still think a lot depends on how these next six games go. To this point, there’s no evidence that the team has quit on Coughlin, and if they win, say, three or four of their final six games and bring their record back toward respectability, the Giants could easily convince themselves that this was the first year of a rebuild (which it was) and that it’s not fair or prudent to make such a major change at this still-early time in that rebuild.”
It becomes hard to figure how a 6-10 record is really any better than a 4-12 record, especially when the Giants have thus far been out classed by the Lions, Eagles, Colts and Seahawks. If ownership thinks that by somehow beating the Titans, Jaguars, Redskins and Rams will prove anything over the the six games, then they are truly detached from the reality of the NFL. But a couple of wins, against the NFL’s bottom feeders could change the view at Giants’ headquarters, according to Graziano. “The Giants could easily convince themselves that this was the first year of a rebuild (which it was) and that it’s not fair or prudent to make such a major change at this still-early time in that rebuild.”
Unfortunately for fans of Big Blue, no one from ownership to management to players, ever mentioned that this season was a rebuilding season. And all anyone has to do is take a look at the team 90 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike to see what a change in leadership can do for a franchise. With free agency and plug-in and play draft picks, rebuilding is only for franchises that lacks accountability for their poor decisions and vision.
Mark Cannizaro of the New York Post believes that Coughlin may already have one foot out the door, which seems to be different than Graziano’s view. Cannizaro in his football column today wrote,”Tom Coughlin, who has been the Giants coach since 2004, is about to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season and, despite having led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles, has been reported by The Post’s Steve Serby as only ’50-50′ to stay.”
The main thrust of Cannizaro’s column was not an assessment of Coughlin’s coaching future, but rather about the possibility of the San Francisco 49ers getting rid of their successful head coach, Jim Harbaugh. Rumors have swirled around the 49ers this season, as reports have surfaced that the team has tired of Harbaugh’s mercurial personality. Even if the Giants fired Coughlin, or the oldest head coach in the NFL retired, neither of which is guaranteed, then the 49ers would also have to dismiss Harbaugh as well. There is a chance that both situations could occur, but another complication would also be the status of general manager Jerry Reese. Generally speaking, a new general manager gets to pick his own head coach.
Last season, Kevin Gilbride was the scapegoat for a franchise that was clearly heading in the wrong direction, even though Gilbride had a broken down offensive line and little in terms of a running game. This season, it looks as if Coughlin will be blamed for not moving the team forward, followed closely by quarterback Eli Manning. Heavy scrutiny has thus far eluded Reese, even though his team was only one game better than the John Idzik-led New York Jets, the last time we looked. Fans have taken to billboards and bi-planes to voice their disapproval with Gang Green’s general manager.
But Harbaugh’s personality, as well as the offers he will get from other teams, like his former team, the Chicago Bears, will likely mean that Big Blue will not be in the Harbaugh sweepstakes, unless something earth shattering happens in the owners’ suite. Don’t count on it.