Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tom Coughlin Must Go! Like a doctor, a football coach's first rule should be to do no harm. Tom Coughlin did serious harm to the New York Giants tonight. The Giants were still very much in the game, trailing the Chicago Bears by four points, early in the fourth quarter. With a third and 15 at the 35-yard line, the smart move was to try and get 7-10 yards with a short pass or draw play. It's harder to throw downfield, and if they could get at least 8 yards, that would set up a makeable field goal on a miserably rainy night in New Jersey. Instead, the play call was to throw down field, and the pass was incomplete. I'm not sure whose bad judgment to fault -- Coughlin's, the offensive coordinator's, or the quarterback's, Eli Manning.

The next decision, though was Coughlin's -- and it was just plain stupid. The Giants went for a field goal, a 52-yard attempt. Jay Feeley's attempt came up way short. The Bears return man, Hester, caught the ball 8 yards deep in the end zone, and deked the Giants into believing he was not going to try and return the kick. Then, Hester took off down the sideline, and turned the play into the longest in NFL history. The game wasn't quite over yet, but after Manning was intercepted on the next series, it was.

Coughlin, after the game, acknowledged that a return is a risk, because the coverage team on a field goal isn't that good. Indeed, the players are selected to block the defense -- they're not speed and tackling people. Coughlin copped to the responsibility for the decision to try the field goal, but he didn't admit to the sheer stupidity of the decision.

There has been a lot of grumbling in the locker room about Coughlin, ever since the playoff disaster last year, when Jeremy Shockey said he team was "outcoached." There has been an expectation that Coughlin will be shown the door after this season. With the Giants on a roll all that early season talk has been forgotten. It shouldn't be.

The Giants will probably make the playoffs, but they have the wrong man at the helm. Because the Giants sit on top of their division, it's almost inconceivable that Coughlin would be let go in midstream. Still, I think the possibility should be considered. If nothing else, management should begin evaluating possible replacements.

LaDanian Tomlinson update: 4 TDs for L.T. today. He's really good. I wrote last month that Barber is the best back in the N.F.L. this year. That might have been hasty hype -- an overreaction to the news that Tiki Barber plans on retiring. Barber is awesome, probably the greatest offensive player the Giants have had. Tomlinson, though, is just a cut above -- one of the best offensive players in league history.

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