Thu 11 Jan 2007
We Giants fans have absorbed more than our fair share of punishment over the past couple of months, but yesterdayâ€™s decision to retain Tom Coughlin ensures that our pain will not end with the end of this season.
Make no mistake about it: the Giants organization is lost. Letâ€™s examine, point by point, the rationale offered by team President John Mara and Treasurer Jonathan Tisch for keeping Colonel Tom around:
1) “What we wanted to hear from him is what is his plan going forward,” said John Mara, in both a logically and grammatically questionable statement. “We wanted to hear those answers and we heard them.”
This was probably the most prominent quote in the papers, but it shows nothing other than that Coughlin told Mara and Tisch Jrs. what they wanted to hear. I could just as easily go into a job interview with a Wall Street company and say that I want to increase my departmentâ€™s profits by 700%. That would seem like a good “plan going forward,” but there is nothing in my track record that would indicate that I would be capable of producing such a result. Similarly, Tomâ€™s grand plan must be weighed against the evidence of the past three seasons accumulated against him.
One would expect Coughlin apologists would cherry-pick and manipulate the evidence to support their claims. To wit: Strahanâ€™s claim in his statement that “He has led us to back to back playoff appearances for the first time in my 14-year career.”
Back to back playoff appearances, huh? Well, I suppose thatâ€™s one way to look at it. But how about looking at it this way:
–In the Colonelâ€™s three years, weâ€™ve been over 500 only once.
–In the second half of his three seasons, the Giants have gone 8-16. If you count the playoffs, weâ€™ve been 8-18. Such a poor showing in the second halves of seasons is evidence that the rest of the league has caught up with us while we have failed to make the necessary adjustments. Rigidity and the inability to make adjustments: frequent and evidently valid criticisms of Coughlin throughout the years.
–The penalties. Ah, the fucking penalties! I donâ€™t have stats on this one, but do I need them for this argument? Those fucking penalties, man. Is there any reason to think that weâ€™ll curtail those next year?
–When both Coughlin and Eli came to the Meadowlands in 2004, we knew that, good or bad, Coughlin would largely be responsible for the stewardship of Eliâ€™s young career. Well, weâ€™re three years into the Eli experiment, and at this point, you have to say that itâ€™s been a severe disappointment. Yes, Coughlin has “led” us to consecutive playoff appearances, but he also has presided over a severely disappointing first few years of the single player whose progress is by far the most important to the franchiseâ€™s long-term future.
2) “We have not named a new general manager. That really didnâ€™t have any affect on this decision,” said Mara, who then said, “We felt like we needed to make a decision on the head coach really quickly.”
“Ideally,” Mara continued. “Youâ€™d like to have the general manager issue settled first, but those circumstances were not in line for us, so we had to take care of this issue and thatâ€™s what we did.”
I get the sense from this that the Giants decision to re-hire Coughlin was brought about by their feeling rushed and overwhelmed by the idea of hiring an entire brain-trust in the span of a few short weeks. They wanted to settle the coach issue first, because only then could they pursue a general manager with the diligence required for such an important decision. The question of who coaches the teamÂ must be settled first, because by the time they conduct a thorough GM search â€˜nâ€™ hire, the ranks of available coaching candidates will be completely depleted.
Look at it this way: If they had fired Coughlin now, they would have been under a lot of pressure to quickly hire a GM so that that GM could then quickly hire a coach before the ranks of available candidates became depleted. But because they didnâ€™t want to be in the position of hastily making a decision on the GM, they figured the safe move was just to settle the coaching issue quickly.
And thatâ€™s all that this move was: the safest move possible for two overwhelmed rookie owners faced with their first watershed couple of decisions. If Coughlin has another shitty year and proves to be the wrong decision, they get rid of him and thatâ€™s it â€“ it only hurts us for one year. But if the new GM turns out to be a dudâ€¦ then weâ€™re fucked.
In a sense, Mara and Tisch were victims of bad timing. It was really too bad for them that the GM was leaving at the same time that the fans were calling for the coachâ€™s head.
But didnâ€™t they bring this bad timing on themselves? Check it out: Judging by the recent news reports of Scott Pioliâ€™s alleged rejection of us, our alleged rejection of Parcells, as well as the Giants tradition of loyalty to in-house guys, I have a feeling that Jerry Reese will be our next GM. If we do in fact go ahead and hire Reese, you have to ask yourself: Why the fuck didnâ€™t we do this before, so that we could have avoided this awkward predicament of having to make such a hasty decision on the coach?
Remember what John Mara said: “Ideally, youâ€™d like to have the general manager issue settled first, but those circumstances were not in line for us, so we had to take care of this issue and thatâ€™s what we did.”
Those circumstances were not in line, John, but thatâ€™s partially youâ€™re fault. Yes, itâ€™s an unlucky predicament, but in the words of Branch Rickey, “Luck is the residue of design.”
3) “It is our strong belief that consistency, stability, loyalty, and sticking by your people are extremely important.”
Hey, Iâ€™m all for consistency and stability, but those two words cannot possibly be used to describe the Giants under Tom Coughlin: Thereâ€™s nothing consistent or stable about this team whatsoever.
Considering the circumstances, Tischâ€™s argument here is profoundly ridiculous. Imagine seeking the guidance of a psychologist because youâ€™re in a nasty, destructive relationship, and then having your shrink tell you, “I think you should stay in this relationship. Considering how shaken up you are, what you really need is stability.” I mean, really. What the fuck kind of logic is that?
4) “In all of my discussions, and our discussions with the players, itâ€™s my sense that they are craving the stability that is now afforded by the coachâ€™s remaining.”
Ah, yes, these statements from the players. Strahan, Shockey, and Pierce (there areÂ the links their respective statements [except for Pierce — trust me on that one], basically sounding the same “Yay, Tom! note). The old superstar, the hothead, and the respected heart and soul. Theyâ€™re really touching all the demographics here. Iâ€™m impressed.
But Iâ€™m also skeptical. Iâ€™m not gonna say that these guys were forced to say anything, but isnâ€™t it possible that they were asked to say something? And what if they had refused to publicly stick up for Coughlin? This is the NFL, not the NBA, and these guys arenâ€™t guaranteed their contracts. As good as these guys are, itâ€™s still in their best interest not to bite the hands that feed them.
That said, I will concede that the rift between the players and Coughlin is a bit overstated. Even as the season was going completely down the shitter, these guys showed up every Sunday and played hard (with the exception of the Saints game). Itâ€™s not as if these guys gave up on the coach.
5) There was a thread in the commentsÂ from yesterdayâ€™s entry that introduced the theory that the Giants rationale for retaining Coughlin was, in NYGMen commentator Juniorâ€™s words, “the perceived dearth of coaching talent out there.”
If that were the case, if the Giants were really holding out another year to get their dream, big-name coachâ€¦ well, that would be quite infuriating.
I donâ€™t know about you, but I have no desire for a big name coach. Hiring Bill Cowher to coach this team appeals to me only slightly less than hiring Larry Brown to coach the Knicks did.
I mean, fuck, letâ€™s get a new guy! Think of it this way: Our two best coaches since Kennedy was president were Bill Parcells and Jim Fassel, who were complete no-names when they were hired. Do you really want the Steelersâ€™ sloppy seconds? Do you really want us to become one of those New York franchises obsessed with accumulating big names? Please. Iâ€™m sure there are plenty of excellent candidates out there. Norm Chow comes to mind. How about Ron Rivera, the Bears defensive coordinator, or Cam Cameron, the Chargers offensive coordinator? What about Karl Dorrell, the UCLA coach?
I mean, itâ€™s not like hiring coaches in the NFL is like drafting players in the NBA. Itâ€™s not like Norm Chow is an Andrew Bogut, but if we wait a year, Bill Cowher will be a guaranteed LeBron James. Itâ€™s such an inexact science that to base your decision about whether or not to fire a coach based on the available coaching talent pool out there is preposterous.
So like it or not, weâ€™re stuck with this guy for another year. Another year of stilted, underachieving football. Another year of the maddening propensity to make mistakes at the worst possible times. Another year of both the players and the media questioning the coach. How, how, oh how did we willingly sign on to another year of this shit?