By NATE MARKLE
In the past three weeks, the Giants produced the worst turnover margin in football, are 0-3 in the season and made history on Sunday when they were shutout for the first time in 40 years.
If there is a silver lining here, it is that there is plenty of season left to play. Such a sentiment is not one to be taken lightly by New Yorkers though. The Giants’ fan base has never been shy or hesitant to call out team administrators or players.
No one knows this better than head coach, Tom Coughlin, who sat in the hot seat so many times during his tenure that he may assume it is just an annual part of the season.
However, the team has never performed this dismally. The New York press is going to have a field day should the Giants continue to falter in what should be a winnable division.
Coughlin’s naysayers never struck a chord with me, and he habitually shuts those individuals up, capturing two Super Bowl championships in his time with the Big Blue. That being said, I think it may be time to rethink my position.
The Giants are playing awfully right now. Coughlin’s squad was so bad they could have lost to Abilene-Christian on Sunday.
The running game is non-existent, so far. The defense is not the formidable unit it was a couple years ago, and while Peyton Manning is leading the NFL in touchdowns, Eli is leading it in interceptions.
At this point, the season may be unsalvageable no matter what action Coughlin takes. However, there is a lot to like about Coughlin’s coaching philosophy.
He symbolizes one of the few remaining figures of the true old-school gridiron. He is harsh, fiery, passionate and notorious for demanding promptness and success out of his players.
So what is wrong with that? Well, the answer is it is 2013 and players do not respond to that kind of leadership the way they used to.
Coaches used to get in players’ faces to curse and threaten them. It worked in the old days, but now, it just ticks players off or scares the hell out of them. David Wilson, the Giants’ running back, is the poster child for that point.
Gone are the hardcore coaches that once pervaded the NFL. The game is continuously changing, and as time rolls on it seems only to shun personalities like Coughlin’s more and more.
Player friendly coaches dominate the NFL now. Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles, Pete Carrol of the Seattle Seahawks and so on are proving the success of this type of leadership.
Former NFL coach, Bill Parcells is a man cut from the same cloth as Coughlin. Parcells also spent time in New York, and he also won two titles.
Parcells possesses a reputation for being one of the most demanding coaches to ever grace the NFL. His style helped him reap great success in the 1980s, but his highly publicized return to coaching in the 2000s did not go so well. Players just did not seem to latch onto his old-school ways.
Parcells and Coughlin both made their way in the league via the “piss and vinegar” attitude and philosophy made famous by coaches of the NFL’s yesteryear.
Men such as Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Mike Ditka, former head coach of the Chicago Bears and more recently Bill Cowher, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, achieved great legacies while being as menacing as imaginable. But that is just not the way the NFL is anymore.
The league is now flooded with young coaches who offer unique and fresh takes on the coach-player relationship and play calling. Change has proven to be a valuable asset to coaches and organizations alike.
Take Andy Reid, current head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, for example. Similar to Coughlin, Reid enjoyed a long stay in Philadelphia and reached some of the game’s greatest pinnacles. Ultimately, the time came for the organization and Reid to part ways.
That change resulted in positives for both parties, as Reid heads the Chiefs with a current 3-0 season, and the Eagles’ offense is a favorite topic for NFL fans.
It seems that the writing is on the wall for Coughlin and the Giants. That does not mean Coughlin has not done well in New York and does not mean the Giants will fade into obscurity.
It just means there is an end to every era. Coughlin and the young Giants players are separated by many generations, and it appears he is being tuned out.
The team is playing pitifully, and the fans of such a proud franchise deserve better. Coughlin deserves better too.
It seems like a coaching change is warranted, and the Giants could and should be the next NFL franchise to roll the dice on a young coach. It has paid off recently for teams like the Bears, Dolphins, Eagles, Ravens, Seahawks, Steelers and defending NFC champions, the 49ers.