Editor’s note: McD’s views in this column are solely his own. They aren’t representative of Rumors and Rants or its staff. In fact, they may not even be representative of sanity at all. We’ll have to check on that.
Much to the surprise of, well, pretty much everyone in the football world, Tom Coughlin was not fired this week. Instead, the New York Giants of New Jersey are bringing him back for next year and extended his contract through 2008. Last week, everyone thought that Coughlin’s firing was as much of a mortal lock as Ohio State kicking Florida’s ass in a classic mismatch. All we have to say is “oops.” Actually, Coughlin should have been kept on as coach for another year. There’s two reasons. The first is that he’s not exactly the only guy responsible for everyone sucking. People like to blame coaches when things go badly, while giving the even more highly-paid players a pass. The second reason is that we complain when coaches who are good guys get fired from mediocre teams. Well, Coughlin isn’t a great guy or a great coach, but his team simply isn’t bad enough to be fired … well not yet anyway.
Tom Coughlin didn’t take one snap at quarterback or any other position this year for the Giants. It was his job to create team chemistry and a strategy for each game. While he’s never been a great chemistry guy, the players still have to execute the game plan. Let’s also not forget that the Giants aren’t exactly full of chemistry guys. Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress have never exactly been solid locker room guys. It’s also been thrown around that the players were “tanking” a little bit this season because of Coughlin. They didn’t want to play for him anymore, people said. But if a team has players who won’t play simply for their own pride, then what does that say about the players themselves?
Let’s also not forget that “franchise quarterback” Eli Manning was awful this season. Manning is definitelt not Coughlin’s fault either. He’s the head coach, but the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coaches have a much more exclusive role in Manning’s development as a professional quarterback. It shouldn’t be surprising to see that Manning has struggled since the Giants hired a nobody as offensive coordinator and Kevin Gilbride (you may know him as the guy who oversaw Ryan Leaf’s development) as quarterbacks coach. Is it any surprise that Coughlin was immediately asked to make staff changes after getting his extension?
But despite all that, the Giants still managed an 8-8 season and made the playoffs. They also made the playoffs last year. A coach simply should not be fired following a season when his team makes the playoffs. If it’s a travesty that Mike Shula lost his job at Alabama for a mediocre season, then it would have been just as much of a travesty for Coughlin to be fired. Also, if the Giants fired him after this season, who would they hire that we know would do a better job? Pete Carroll isn’t going anywhere and he wasn’t ever a great pro coach to begin with. Bobby Petrino is gone to Atlanta. They’d have to go with some one’s offensive coordinator or an equally uninspiring choice. No one can convince me that the Giants would play any better for Cam Cameron than they would for Tom Coughlin.
A coach that makes the playoffs two straight years does not deserve to be fired. If things are the same through next year, then maybe things will be different. But he’s only been there three years and he’s made the playoffs twice. He’s also stuck with questionable, aging personnel and fans who expect perfection. What they got this year is pretty much a miracle considering who Tom Coughlin is and who was playing for him. Ask yourself, if he was a likeable guy, would everyone be asking for his job or would everyone be saying he deserves another chance?