The Problem With Coughlin

Tom Coughlin will be entering his 11th year as the head coach of the New York Giants. In the 11 years of being the head coach, he has won two Super Bowls and has a playoff record of 8-3 with an overall record of 96-80. On the outside, those are some phenomenal statistics that should cement Coughlin as the Giants head coach until he retires.

Most Giants fans agree that Tom Coughlin deserves to keep his job as in a New York Daily News poll, 78% of Giants fans voted “No” to the question “Should Tom Coughlin be fired?” That is an astounding approval rating for a coach that has missed the playoffs six out of the last seven years. This is concerning, a vast majority of fans absolve Coughlin from any blame during the past three losing seasons.

To some fans, Tom Coughlin is on a Joe Paterno worship level. They will defend Coughlin until the end and defer any kind of blame onto Jerry Reese or John Mara. This is bad; some Giants fans have blinded themselves from the truth due to the Super Bowl wins. I hope I can at least get some to think that Coughlin deserves part of the blame for countless seasons of breakdowns and games where the Giants did not show up.

Now, I thank Tom Coughlin for all he has done for the Giants, he has had some great years, some great wins, some greatly coached games, and the players have never quit on him with the exception of Tiki Barber. I know as a Giants fan, I’m spoilt. I’m 18 years old; I have seen the Giants win two Super Bowls, something fans of a team like the Lions have been clamoring for over 45 years. That being said, as a fan who occasionally pays to go to a Giants game I want to watch a winning product.

Who doesn’t?

I’ve been disappointed year after year with how the Giants show up to play some of these games. As we take a look at the 2014 season, there are some games that Giants could of won if it wasn’t for them being out coached or having many mental mistakes.

The game against the Arizona Cardinals is one that the Giants should have won. While most will put mental mistakes on a coach as much as the player, it is the head coaches job to make sure the team is competent and ready for the game. That game was plagued by horrid turnovers that should not have happened.

The biggest qualm for me that game was the constant Special Teams breakdowns. Whether it was Ted Ginn taking back a punt for a touchdown or on the ensuing kickoff when the Giants fumbled the ball back to them, the Giants lost that game on Special Team mistakes. Now one would wonder, “What does this have to do with Tom Coughlin?” It had everything to do with Tom Coughlin.

The Giants Special Teams have been horrid for a long time. While they might rank in the middle of the pack for the 2014 season, Tom Quinn is way in over his head. Even after the debacle of the 2010 season it just seems like Tom Quinn is an untouchable. Season after season of the Giants special teams being awful and he still has a job. This is a result of Tom Coughlin refusing to let him go, for some reason Coughlin thinks Quinn has done an adequate job on special teams and us Giants fans know he has not.

Breakdown after breakdown, fumble after fumble, not prepared for the surprise onside kicks, just completely mediocre on kickoffs and downright awful returning punts the writing is on the wall. Tom Quinn should have been fired after the 2010 season. By Tom Coughlin keeping him here has made the special teams a liability.

I’m always constantly holding my breath as Rueben Randle waves for fair catches with 20 yards of space around him. I hold my breath every time a kick returner for the Giants takes it out of the end zone to either just end up fumbling or getting blasted at the 20-yard line. That anxiety should not still be here after five years since that game in 2010 against the Eagles.

It is Tom Coughlin’s job to make sure this team is ready to play, that there will be no mental mistakes. Being coached up by a great coach erases mental mistakes. There is an obvious disconnect here has Quinn has shown how incompetent he is as a coach and he is still coaching on this staff. Tom Coughlin’s failure to address this has hampered the Giants for many years. You can go back to every season and find a horrid special teams breakdown that affected an outcome of a game.

It’s time to let go.

Another horrible problem with Coughlin is his constant devotion to playing veterans over younger players. This one is undeniable; can someone explain to me why Mathias Kiwanuka was starting for all those games before he got injured? I think I can explain. He played because Tom Coughlin values experience to playing younger players. As soon as Kiwanuka got hurt, Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers came in and instantly made this ineffective defensive line effective.

The examples just don’t end at Kiwanuka. When Victor Cruz went down, the Giants brought in Kevin Ogletree, a wide receiver who has been around the league with some different teams. The Giants have a young, tall, fresh player in Corey Washington sitting on the bench and instead of him filling any kind of role in the offense, Kevin Ogletree did.  

Why?

This was Tom Coughlin’s explanation, “Do a better job on the practice field. Do a better job all around,” Coughlin said. “He does have to, obviously, become better at his job.” He also added in a press conference that Washington has to play better on special teams.

Tell me, what can a 6’4′ Wide Receiver do on special teams? The reason, why he is not successful on the special teams unit, is his height. He can’t do much; he is built to play as a receiver. Washington was inactive Week 17 for unknown reasons. Why Coughlin will not take a chance with younger and better players is beyond me. I understand he wants a veteran presence, but it is and has severely hampered this team many times. The counter argument to this is Victor Cruz.

Many fans praise Coughlin for playing Cruz and then Cruz went on to that storybook 2011 season. If one would take a closer look at that situation it is quite obvious that Coughlin was forced to play Victor Cruz. Many people seem to forget that Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon, and Brandon Stokley went down with an injury therefore forcing Coughlin to start Cruz out of the need. He then went on to torture the Eagles and his career started.

If none of those players got injured, Cruz would not have played. Remember when he had a few drops the first game of the season against Washington? Yeah, Coughlin benched Cruz after that game. The last example I will give is Tom Coughlin’s undeniable love for David Diehl. There is not much to say about this, Diehl started games that he should have not. In 2012 when he went down with a thumb injury and Sean Locklear came in the Giants offensive line was instantly better. Then after Diehl was cleared to play he automatically took his spot back over.

Diehl was a great player, he played with heart and passion but he should not have been a starter. That’s yet another example of many instances where the younger or better player just sits on the bench under an underperforming veteran.

The last key point I want to make is Coughlin’s teams constantly not showing up in big prime time games. Answer this question, since Super Bowl 46, when was the last time the Giants have won a meaningful prime time game? It has been a long time. The last meaningful prime time game the Giants played was this year against the Eagles.  

The Giants, coming fresh off their three game wining streak with a 3-2 record came into this game with a chance to tie the Eagles for 1st place. Going back to my first point, the way the Giants played this game was just disappointing and horrid. The players talked trash all week, nonstop hate headed toward the Eagles. The game started and the Giants fell flat on their face. They got hit and hit over and over.

They looked nothing like the team that went on a three game winning streak the previous three weeks. They looked unprepared and overwhelmed with some awful game planning and terrible schemes.

How could this happen?

Well, it has happened plenty of times before. In 2012, the Giants had to beat the last two teams they played in order to make the playoffs. They were put in that position after getting blown out of the water by the Falcons 34-0. The Giants were put in a similar position in 2011 and many people thought they could replicate what happened that year.

They didn’t.

They went on to get smacked by the Ravens, which basically eliminated them from playoff contention. They looked so horrible those two games. It looked like they had no idea what they were doing. They were out coached and out schemed in both of those games. The past two years the Giants have gone on losing streaks of six or seven games and have looked so bad during those. It was so bad that they blew a 21-point lead against the Jaguars and lost. Let’s forget that in the past five seasons, the Giants have had a losing streak of four games or more in three of them.

Why do I have to sit here and watch three to four games a year of the Giants just coming out the gate flat? Why can’t they be prepared? That’s not on the player, that’s on Coughlin. He is responsible for this team being prepared and ready for game day and he has failed to do that the past two seasons. Coughlin has lost his magic.

I always get the counterpoint of injuries. Remember when Tom Coughlin stated in 2004 that injuries were a “mentality” thing. Well, I hope he realizes he might be wrong. Injuries are no excuse for a coach constantly having the team underprepared for a game. The Giants had decent depth this year and he failed to utilize it correctly.

He’s failed to utilize players correctly since he’s been here. The most recent example is trying to make David Wilson run in-between the tackles instead of being a Darren Sproles type back. The worst excuse I received was in the form of a tweet “because he the ONLY CURRENT coach to win 2 Super Bowls in 8 seasons, gets him a pass whether deserved or not.”

This mentality kills me.

Why would you want to keep a coach just based on sentiment? I’m sorry, but I take winning over sentiment anytime, any day. Super Bowl 46 was four years ago, the NFL is about winning now not about what you have won in the past. Whether you want to hear it or not, Coughlin is just as much to blame as someone would blame Jerry Reese.

Fans just need to look at the bigger picture, this team could be the Ravens of the NFC but somehow they are not. After two coordinators leave the staff sooner or later the failure has to fall on someone else.

If the Giants win the Super Bowl next year, I’ll get crucified, I honestly hope I do. I want to be wrong. Please Tom Coughlin, prove me wrong.

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