Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Writing off a season

The New York Giants are a genteel, old-line, classy organization. The respect that the ownership group has from players and fans is tremendous, and well-earned. But the problem with the team's conservative, stay-the-course approach is that the team retains poor coaches too long.

Today the Giants settled their internal dischord by announcing that Tom Coughlin will return as the head coach next year. Because the Giants do not want the coaches to be perceived as a lame duck, they also renewed Coughlin's contract through the 2008 season. Today is a bad day for Giants fans.

Coughlin really doesn't fit the current game. He's a hothead, a screamer and a fit-thrower in a locker room full of big egos, solid veterans and young players who don't respond to the Bob Knight motivational tactics. Once Jacksonville transformed from an expansion team full of players just happy to be in the NFL to a solid bunch with the potential to reach a top level, Coughlin's diatribes and drill sergeant persona wore out his players and the Jaguars tossed him to the curb.

As a coach, he makes poor tactical decisions constantly and is shockingly predictable for a solid offensive mind (his Boston College teams always ran effective and innovative offenses). He has not been able to harness the ability of Eli Manning, who is (for better or worse) the team's franchise QB and who has the ability to live up to his hype (see the first 8 games of 2005). This season collapsed in a heap when the Giants were decimated by injuries, but at least one similarly injury-weakened team coached by a Parcells disciple, the Patriots, maintained their excellence.

The Giants are frustration incarnate. They are undisciplined like the Raiders, which is a far cry from the Parcells, Reeves and even Fassel teams. The defense is unreliable and the defensive coaching is rarely better than poor. The offense is predictable.

And we get to see it all again next year.

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