Why the Giants Were Right in Keeping Coach Tom Coughlin

     Coming into this year’s NFL season, Giants coach Tom Coughlin seemed to be on the hot seat.  After winning the Super Bowl in the 2011 season, the Giants failed to make the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, including a disappointing 7-9 2013 season which was marked by an 0-6 start and an offense which was hardly ever on the same page.  It was believed by many that if the Giants were to have another poor season and miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years (although may I remind you there’s a Super Bowl right before and in middle of that stretch), the Giants coach of 11 seasons would be as good as gone.
     Well, the Giants had another six game losing streak this year, this time coming in the middle of a 6-10 season which had its fair share of good moments, but just as many awful ones.  As many Giants fans called for the end of Coach Coughlin, seemingly just as many expressed overwhelming support for the guy who led the G-Men to two rings.  And if you couldn’t tell by the title, I was in that second group.
     Now it has been revealed that Tom Coughlin will indeed return to coach the Giants in 2015, despite all the talks about his departure, and as a Giants fan, I’m ecstatic.  I was never really that worried, either.  I trusted the front office to make an intelligent decision, and they did.  But why exactly was this the right move for Big Blue?  There’s a number of reasons.
     The primary reason is the main reason that many people have been stating: you’re simply not going to find a better replacement.  Let’s just get this out of the way: Tom Coughlin is a great coach, and a very experienced one, too.  He has been coaching football for 45 years.  He’s been a coach longer than many other coaches have even been alive.  When a team fires their coach, they have to be confident that they can find a guy that’s at least as good as they guy they fired to become the new coach.  There is no way the Giants get a guy with 45 years coaching experience.  There is no way the Giants get a guy who has over 300 games of NFL experience as a head coach alone, and has won 164 of those games.  There is no way the Giants get a guy who has become the coach of a new expansion team (the Jaguars) and in two years turned them into a playoff team, and led them to the playoffs four times in their five seasons, including a pair of 11-win seasons, a 14-win season, and two conference championship appearances.  There is no way the Giants get a guy who has made the playoffs nine times, going 11-7 in the postseason.  There is no way the Giants get a guy who has won two Super Bowls, both in seasons where they were by no means expected to go deep in the playoffs.  Simply put, the Giants will not find a better, more experienced coach than Tom Coughlin.
     The next reason Tom Coughlin deserves to remain head coach is the fact that injuries absolutely destroyed the Giants’ season this year (and last year, honestly).  The Giants finished the 2014 season with a staggering 22 players on the injured reserve (IR).  And these aren’t just random guys who don’t see playing time either.  The list includes starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride, starting middle linebacker Jon Beason, starting defensive ends Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka, and star wide receiver Victor Cruz.  Basically, the Giants lost a lot of really important players.  And we haven’t even gotten to the running back situation yet.  The original plan was to start David Wilson at running back.  He was forced to retire prematurely due to a neck injury.  Then Rashad Jennings became starter.  However, injuries sidelined him for the majority of seven games.  Other running backs Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox also ended the year on the IR.  That’s four running backs who missed a substantial amount of time if not the entire season.  This left the Giants to use rookie Andre Williams for much of the year.  Additionally, breakout star Odell Beckham Jr. missed the season’s first four games.  The team was simply killed by injuries.  Hopefully next season injuries will be more manageable on both sides of the ball.
     Another big reason is that this year was new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s first year trying to install a new offense, which, as all new offenses do, took a little time for everyone to get used to and run effectively.  The offense did improve substantially throughout the season, and Eli Manning ended up with over 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns, proving that the new game plan works.  I mean, it certainly did for the last guy who used it, Aaron Rodgers.  Next season, McAdoo’s West Coast offense will have already been well established, and the team will feature a rejuvenated Eli Manning, a healthy Rashad Jennings and experienced Andre Williams, along with a deadly receiver trio of Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle, and the returning rookie of the year (it’s not really in doubt, right?), Odell Beckham Jr.  That sounds scary to me.
     Can we please take a moment to talk about Odell?  This guy, and I’ve said it since day one, is simply oozing potential.  This guy could actually be one of the best to ever play the game if he develops properly, which is something I very rarely say.  (Side note: in fact, the sports community’s over-willingness to overhype things is the subject of a future blog, coming very soon).   Let’s just look at the numbers.  He finished with 91 receptions for 1305 yards and 12 touchdowns…in just 12 games.  This guy grew as a player every game, too.  In his last four games alone he had 43 catches for 606 yards and seven touchdowns.  Eli Manning has called him the best receiver he’s ever had, and became his favorite target after only around a month in the NFL.  He is an incredible route-runner, is very fast, and has one of the best sets of hands I’ve ever seen.  This guy can catch anything thrown his way, as shown by his incredible catch against the Cowboys.  (Still, nothing beats the helmet catch, but probably the #2 Giants catch ever).
     One final reason to keep Coach Coughlin is one that will probably be overlooked, but still nevertheless deserves to be stated.  He is a man that loves his players, and whose players love and will give 100% for him.  Coughlin has truly earned the respect of the team, the organization, and the league.  He is a no-nonsense guy, but also very kind and understanding, just like any good coach should be.  This is a guy who simply loves the game of football, and loves the New York Giants.  He has stated he’d like to coach until he dies, and recently joked with the organization that while he’ll take remaining coach for next season,  he would like a 10-year extension.
     The Giants are a great team, and a great and proud organization.  The team has a lot of bright young talent and skilled veterans to turn the ship around in 2015 and return to the playoffs, and I can’t think of any guy better than Tom Coughlin to captain this ship.  Coughlin will have more pressure on him than ever, but he can handle it.  Coughlin has responded to doubters in his most important seasons by winning Super Bowls, and he has just as good a shot next year as those years to make a run and surprise everyone again.  The Giants won Super Bowls in Tom Coughlin’s fourth year as coach (my fourth grade year), and his eighth year as coach (my eighth grade year), and I believe he deserves the chance to do it in his twelfth year, my senior year of high school.
     Thanks for reading.  It’s great to finally write specifically about my Giants, something that somehow I haven’t done before.

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