Head coach Tom Coughlin is not part of the solution for the New York Giants. He is a big part of the problem for the 0-6 Giants and needs to face the music for a team which he has had every opportunity to mold in his image.
Yet, as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported at halftime, the Giants are set to give Coughlin the ability to choose his own fate at the end of the season, and he's likely returning for next season.
That, frankly, is a terrible idea.
I can practically hear the apologists from here—decrying the "what have you done for me lately" NFL media and repeating the fact that Coughlin has two Super Bowl rings as a head coach ad infinitum. Look, that's all well and good, but this isn't about "what have you done for me lately"; it's about what can you do for me tomorrow.
If Coughlin decides to stick around for 2014, he'll be 68 and still one of the oldest NFL head coaches of all-time. The Giants, with very little potential to make any sort of a run this season, will be rebuilding (or at least restocking) next season. If Coughlin sticks around to start the rebuild, there's little-to-no reason to believe he'll be around to see it through.
The man loves coaching, I get it. But the NFL isn't real big on sentimentality or personal favors. If you can't get the job done, it's time to go.
Dating back to the beginning of last season, Coughlin is 9-13, including losing eight of his last 10. Quarterback Eli Manning has seemed to regress, throwing as many interceptions through six games this season (15) as he did all of last year. Once upon a time, Coughlin was considered an offensive genius, but he and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride have overseen an impotent and mistake-prone offense that finds the opponents' hands as much as they find the end zone.
Then again, Coughlin's top man on the defensive side of the ball—Perry Fewell—hasn't been much better. The personnel could use some work, yes, but Fewell spent his formative football years learning from Cover 2 gurus like Lovie Smith and Dick Jauron. If you've identified those as two other coaches for whom the decline of the Cover 2 hasn't been kind, you win the prize.
I spoke to Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz a few weeks ago, and Cruz said that the issue had to do with guys not being excited anymore, and that Coughlin had tried to be more vocal and active to generate some excitement—something not in the coach's comfort zone.
Cruz also said that camaraderie on the team had fallen by the wayside. Things like wide receiver dinners, which were commonplace, had been replaced with the general hubbub of being a superstar in the world's biggest media market.
What Cruz wouldn't do is throw his head coach under the bus. He said that it would be a personal blow to him if Coughlin were fired. He called Coughlin the "epitome" of Giants football. Cruz also pointed out that the Giants had had their backs against this sort of wall before and have always come out swinging.
This wall, however, seems bigger, badder and more hopeless than the average hurdle. The Giants' hometown and all of the coverage that goes with it is only going to magnify the burn of the spotlight—every coaching misstep blown out of proportion and every mistake caught in the echo chamber.
If this were almost any other franchise, Coughlin might be fired tomorrow morning. Instead, the New York Giants are paralyzed by their noble loyalty. In almost any other circumstance, it would be admirable. Now, it could set the team back even further.
Wait until the end of the season, sure, but Tom Coughlin needs to go. He has lost this team, and it will not win anything of meaning again until they're finally done postponing his retirement party.