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Gary Myers: Coughlin's contract status
15 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2006 - 5:36PM #1
Posts: 0

Won't Cough up deal yet

Tom still on Giant hot seat

Tom Coughlin may be wondering what's up with contract extension, but Giants are waiting to see how rest of season unfolds.
The Giants are back in business after their month-long sabbatical, but Tom Coughlin is not off the hook.

The four-game losing streak, which followed a five-game winning streak, suddenly began a high-stakes, high-pressure game of Coughlin coaching for his job over the final month of the season. He's still firmly on the hot seat, but the temperature has been turned down a few degrees after the victory over the Panthers. The Giants want to keep Coughlin, expect to keep him, but will not make a decision on an extension until after the season. That strongly indicates a Giants meltdown on the way to the finish line or a humiliating playoff loss like last year's could get him fired.

Coughlin passed the first of his four tests in Carolina. The next one comes this week against the Eagles in a game with serious playoff implications. If the Giants lose to Jeff Garcia, the fifth straight quarterback they will face who began the season as a backup, the Coughlin Watch picks up momentum again.

If the Giants beat Philly, they will be in solid position to make the playoffs as a wild card and could even be back in first place by Sunday night if the Cowboys lose in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The Giant players will make a statement about how much they want their coach back next year with what happens the next three games. There should be some loyalty to him. The Giants have 58 players under contract, and 42 of them were brought in during the Coughlin administration. But if he can't get them to January in one of the worst years ever in the NFC, especially after a 6-2 start, then his entire program will be open for debate by management. It doesn't take much reading between the lines to understand why the Giants have not approached Coughlin about an extension with his contract expiring after the 2007 season. They want to feel good about the direction he's taking the team before renewing his membership.

After winning the NFC East last year, Coughlin is trying to become the first Giants coach since Bill Parcells in 1989-90 to make the playoffs two years in a row. Here's what could be key issues: Is 9-7 or 8-8 and another first-round playoff loss good enough to earn Coughlin an extension? Will ownership give him a pass because of all the injuries?

The Giants could be a dangerous playoff team. Remember, the Steelers surged after being counted out at 7-5, won their last four, then won three road playoff games and became the first No.6 seed to win the Super Bowl.

Coughlin has not won a playoff game since the divisional round in the 1999 season, when the Jaguars beat the Dolphins, 62-7, in what turned out to be the last game of Dan Marino's career and the last game Jimmy Johnson coached.

"He's done a good job. He's dealt with injuries and a young quarterback and they should be in the playoffs again this year," Johnson said from his Florida home. "I give him 100% endorsement for coming back. I think it's ludicrous even to consider not bringing him back."

Still, with all the turmoil surrounding the Giants, Johnson said, "I think he brings a little bit on himself. He's got his little quirks like most people. He's dealing with a veteran team that is not just totally buying into everything he says. They're just not going to run through a wall if he says run through the wall."

And it's not just Coughlin who has that problem. "A lot of players have money in the bank. Big bonuses," Johnson said. "They are undisciplined when they come in. They do tune out the coach. It's the nature of the game because of the structure of the contract. When they were playing for a paycheck week in and week out, they listened to every word. You think T.O. cares? Please."

If Coughlin can get the Giants on a roll going into the playoffs, they could be a tough out. "Obviously I feel that way," Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said. "I think this is a good team."

In the last two years, the NFC wild-card teams are 4-0 on the road against division winners in the first round. Despite all the tumult, this soap opera of a season still has potential. "We're in a pennant race," Accorsi said. "Once you get in, things happen."

The Eagles are 2-1 since Donovan McNabb suffered a season-ending knee injury. They caught the Giants at 7-6 and both are one game behind the Cowboys. Garcia has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the three games since taking over. The Birds were 5-5 with McNabb.

"They've proven they can win without McNabb," Antonio Pierce said. "They lost their main leader, the captain of their ship, but that ship is still moving."

After leading the 49ers to that miracle comeback over the Giants in the 2002 playoffs, overcoming a 38-14 third-quarter deficit, Garcia, who will be 37 in two months, is 11-21 starting games for the 49ers, Browns, Lions and Eagles. The Giants beat him, 27-10, in 2004 when he was with Cleveland.

Johnson picks the Cowboys to hold on and win the division based on an easier schedule, but said if the Giants defense is healthy and Eli Manning plays well, "they are about as good as anybody else the way the league is. If Eli struggles and throws the ball up for grabs, then the Giants are in trouble."

Ultimately, that could mean Coughlin never gets off the hook.

Originally published on December 13, 2006

15 years ago  ::  Dec 18, 2006 - 8:16PM #2
Posts: 0
The Giants could be a dangerous playoff team.
Remember, the Steelers surged after being counted out at 7-5, won their
last four, then won three road playoff games and became the first No.6
seed to win the Super Bowl.

Dream on, Gary.
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