[Editor’s note- Rich Conforti joined the staff of UltimateNYG in December. He has already given us some good quality observations and insight into topics such as the Giants’ pass coverage and run schemes. In this installment, Rich shares his positive opinion of Tom Coughlin. My rebuttal is indented after each of his points. We hope you enjoy the debate. This site is about an open forum for discussion, and we do not shy away from an objective and constructive exchange of views. – Andy]
Let’s start out by addressing the topic of the near 2011 Giants collapse.
Did it appear at times that we were headed for one? Sure. Bottom line is that this team finished out the last quarter of the season with a 3-1 record. Despite endless amounts of nitpicking, this team rallied at the end of the season to make the playoffs.
Nitpicking? Do you call losing to Washington twice, Seattle and PHL’s Young nitpicking? I call it wholesale abandonment and underachievement. Better late than never, but why did it take Coughlin and Fewell so long to figure out that the Tampa 2 was a turkey?!
A 6-2 start, peaking with the unforgettable win at New England, set the bar extra high and maybe caused some to lose sight of all this. Did anyone stop to think its possible that we may have overachieved in the first half in jumping out to a 12-4 pace? Sometimes people need to step back and reassess their expectations. Isn’t a 9-7 finish par for the course? If you were optimistic you expected 10 or 11 wins.
Before the season started, the UltimateNYG blog survey and Vegas had the Gmen winning between 9-10 games. That included the injuries. And this site fully anticipated a ~5-2 start before the back 9. We liked the effort vs NE, but disliked how the second half losses to WAS and PHL at home were very preventable. Those losses gave the Giants two elimination games that were completely unnecessary.
Another popular way to bash Coughlin has come in the form of criticizing his coordinators. I am not one to judge a head coach off of his coordinators for a few simple reasons.
As Mike Garafolo (someone who has the most access to the team without actually being on it, which puts him in a position to possibly comment on coaching and coordinators) believes and wrote in his Washington @ Giants game review:
Anyway, as I was saying, you all know me. You know how reluctant I am to say, “That was a poorly coached game.” Most of the time, I look to the execution (or lack thereof) as the reason things don’t work out on the field. It drives many of you nuts because you love to throw darts at the coaches but I see what I see and often defend the staff.
Let’s accurately respond with the exact continuation of what Garafolo said on that day… (But…):
“…Not Sunday. Not at MetLife Stadium. Not for the home team.
That, in my estimation, was a poorly coached game.
This is not to exonerate the players at all. As you’ll see below, they’re culpable as well. But as you’ll also see below, there were a lot of decisions from the coaches with which I do not agree. And this isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking here; I scratched my head when I saw these things live.”
Also, go ahead and make your ASSUMPTIONS on his ability to reach his players, but I just have trouble finding a way to bring myself to call for the head of a coach who somehow managed to transform Antrel Rolle (a former known Coughlin critic) into a team leader and a supporter of his coach:
“He’s the boss man and we are his soldiers,” Rolle told reporters Monday. “I have many different reasons why I play the game as hard as I do, and I’ll be honest to say, one of them is Coach Coughlin.”
He added, “I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.”
Given that Coughlin and Rolle — who called himself “stubborn” and “not an easy cookie” — have butted heads more than once, Rolle’s words had gravity.
Or as special teams captain Zach DeOssie said:
“I can’t remember when Coach hasn’t had the pulse of the team,” said DeOssie, whose rookie year coincided with the Giants’ 2007 run to the Super Bowl. “We respect him, we play for him and we play for each other.”
As for “assumptions” to reach players, that is the head coach’s JOB. We have been positive on Rolle, in fact supporting him on blog radio just days before the disclosure that he voiced displeasure with the team’s effort. It should also be remembered that Rolle has voiced his displeasure with Coughlin (and the coaching staff) publicly on a number of occasions. We support Rolle’s leadership and do agree that this is a key part of the late turnaround. Coughlin gets credit for this 'Better late than never.' But why so late? Why does Coughlin habitually suffer from lack of player support?
As for DeOssie’s memory about having the pulse of the team, I remember one with complete factuality. It was vs Carolina in Dec 2009 when the Giants needed to win to get into the playoffs, and Coughlin admitted he did not know what team he was going to have that week. They lost 41-9.
What is it that we can give head coaches credit for?
Sure, the goal is to win a Super Bowl every single year and any fan who doesn’t want that is misguided.
But let’s think realistically here, in Coughlin’s eight-year tenure in New York how many teams have had more success throughout the duration of that span? New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis…
Green Bay? Haven’t done it for long enough (4 wins in 2005, 6 in 2008).
Baltimore? Close, but no ring.
New Orleans? I don’t think so but we’ll call it a coin flip.
We use titles as the yardstick, so Green Bay and New Orleans both have as many as the Giants during that time period. The problem with your line of reasoning is that 2008’s title aspirations were completely squandered. You have to win when you are dealt the hand, and the Giants didn’t capitalize. The entire Giants organization (which has made good moves and bad) is professional enough to put Coughlin in a position to succeed. Is it fair to compare this franchise with so many dysfunctional organizations (Al Davis, Dan Snyder, The Fords…) who can’t shoot straight? We recognize Coughlin’s competence. We do not see excellence.
If you haven’t caught on by now, I am a supporter of Tom Coughlin. Anyone who manages to keep a head coaching job in New York for eight seasons must be doing something right. In today’s balanced NFL, five playoff appearances in eight NFL seasons isn’t too shabby.
The NY Yankees view a season as failure if they do not win the championship. We both agree that if you are not aspiring to that goal, then that is wrong. But the NY Giants publicly state that they consider it a successful season if the team makes it to the playoffs. I believe that 31 teams lose and 1 team wins.
The NY Giants are loyal to a fault. Do not confuse their loyalty to Coughlin with it being right or not. This past weekend was Coughlin’s first playoff win without Spagnuolo. Maybe it is the start of another run. We believe the possibility is there. With Fewell having recently purged the Tampa 2 in favor of more man coverage, the Giants have a shot at competing for a title. If Coughlin can win a title with Perry Fewell as his DC, that will force me to reevaluate my thinking. I HOPE THAT HAPPENS! GO GMEN!!!!!!!
At the end of the day Coughlin is one of the few coaches in this league with a championship and while there are a handful who may be "better" coaches- I'd say BB, the Harbaugh Bros., Tomlin and Payton- there are not many. Sure he has had his share of struggles, this year is no exception. No matter what happened on the way here, TC has his team playing its best football headed into the third weekend in January and there is something to be said for that. Time and time again he has team primed for big games and Sunday will be no exception.
Let the debate begin…