After the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI two years ago, most people thought that head coach Tom Coughlin had earned job security for the rest of his professional career. But that was two years ago.
Fast forward to two years later, a missed postseason trip following the championship year and a now 0-4 start to the regular season, and the anger in fans voices have come back, the questions are being asked if he still has it, and the media is starting to write more stories on if Coughlin still has what it takes to run the team.
While players like Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle have come in Coughlin's defense this week and have publicly stated that they believe in their coach, it doesn't change the circumstances, nor does it erase what has happened through the first quarter of the 2013 season; a winless start with a lot of mistakes and a very angry fanbase looking for answers.
Some of those have called for the firing of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for the poor starts from the offense and defense, but both assistant coaches are long-time Coughlin assistant coaches and friends and the chances of either being fired are very slim, something that people see as a weakness to Coughlin; that he is almost too loyal to his assistants and needs to know when it's time to cut the rope when necessary.
As the Giants prepare to take on the 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles this week in their Week 5 showdown at MetLife Stadium, the media's speculation on Coughlin potentially being shown the door as picked up this week as well. ESPN did a whole feature on coaches who are either 0-4 or 1-3 and if they will be the first to get fired; Coughlin's name was in fact on the list, along with Rex Ryan, Mike Tomlin and Greg Schiano, who is looking more and more like the first candidate to be fired mid-season for the mess he's created with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But even so, Coughlin was on the list, and people are giving reasons as why Coughlin should go.
On Tuesday, Dave Hutchinson of the Newark-Star Ledger wrote on the possibility of Coughlin starting to get soft and not being the same old coach that knows how to motivate the players into giving a full effort.
"Many of you repeatedly have referenced Coughlin’s age (67) in your comments, saying he has lost the team and his fastball. We have been reluctant to agree with that. But watching Coughlin handle these dire conditions with a smile and jokes does seem a bit odd to us. Perhaps we’re wrong. But where is the fire-and-brimstone? Where are the threats to bench players or fine them for critical mistakes? Where is the post-game indignation we saw from Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin, whose proud team is also 0-4?"
The Giants are known as a team that do not make coaching changes in the middle of the season and even when they do fire head coaches; the last three being Jim Fassel, Dan Reeves and Ray Handley, they've given them the chance to finish out their final seasons with the team; Fassel in 2003, Reeves in 1996 and Handley in 1992. But Coughlin is a different situation though, because unlike the other three, he has multiple championships on his resume, where the others did not.
Coughlin is also coming up to a point where he has one year left on his contract and the team does not believe in the "lame duck" head coaching philosophy, but after Super Bowl XLVI, only gave Coughlin a two-year extension that ran through 2014 as opposed to a four or five-year commitment, which might say something about how long John Mara, Steve Tisch and Jerry Reese see Coughlin sticking around when he's 68 or 69 years old. And that's why the "encouraged retirement" scenario has been talked about with fans.
Instead of being fired, fans can see Mara and Tisch "encouraging" Coughlin to retire, maybe give him a job in the front office as an advisor or consultant, and hand the reigns over to another coach. It's just a scenario, but one that many have been talking about ever since the team started their losing streak, which has gotten worse over the last few weeks.
And there's a really good chance that if the Giants were to lose to the Eagles on Sunday, those rumblings and voices that have been heard before, might get even louder and hard to ignore, especially if the team is 0-5 and looking like they have no hope of recovery. So until the Giants can get a win and maybe get out of being a losing team, these firing debates will only continue to keep going in 2013.
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