One day after the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive year, co-owner Steve Tisch said Monday that the team plans to sit down with the 64-year-old coach in the very near future and work out a new deal.
|Coach Tom Coughlin, who owns one Super Bowl championship, will return to the Giants next season. (David Stluka/Associated Press)|
"He is a great, great guy and a tremendous leader," Tisch said. "The players play for him and respect him. You can't let a guy like that get too far away."
Still, this season will go down as a major disappointment in New York.
The Giants had hopes of playing for another Super Bowl title, but their playoff hopes were dashed when they blew a 21-point lead against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 19 in an NFC East showdown, then lost to the Packers in Green Bay the following weekend to lose control of their playoff destiny.
While they salvaged a 10-win season Sunday, the Giants' postseason dreams had vanished minutes earlier when the Packers wrapped up the final NFC wild-card berth with a victory over the Chicago Bears. It left the team with little to talk about but their disappointment after a season highlighted by inconsistency.
When the Giants were good, they were outstanding. Early in the season, they had a five-game winning streak that included an impressive 10-sack win over the Bears, the NFC North champions, and another three-game winning streak that put New York in position to win the NFC East.
And when the Giants were bad, well, they looked as if they belonged in the NFC West.
No one will forget the collapse against the Eagles. The Giants not only blew a 31-10 lead with eight minutes to play, but they even managed to lose the game in regulation when DeSean Jackson scored on a 65-yard punt return after Matt Dodge failed to punt the ball out of bounds.
There also were the 42 turnovers, including a team-record-tying 25 interceptions by Eli Manning. The giveaways were a common component in one-sided losses to the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Packers.
"I'll watch them for sure," Coughlin said of the playoffs. "I'm a fan. I love it, and I'll watch it for sure. I'll usually have that pad right next to me, I'll make some notes for myself and so on and so forth, but I won't be a happy camper."
Coughlin, Mara, Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese will have much to review. New York has 21 free agents, including defensive linemen Mathias Kiwanuka and Barry Cofield; fumble-prone halfback Ahmad Bradshaw, who rushed for a team-high 1,235 yards; safety Deon Grant; and Smith, the team's single-season reception leader, who faces a long rehabilitation after recently undergoing major knee surgery.
Kiwanuka also is a question mark after going on season-ending injured reserve with a disc problem in his neck.
Coughlin said he hasn't considered changes to his coaching staff, but with all the fumbles, interceptions and poor special-teams play, there might be some movement.
While he said he hasn't given it much thought, Coughlin's contract should be finished soon. He even joked when asked how long he might coach, saying he was considering going until he was 70 or 72-years-old.
"I do one year at a time," he said with a smile.
Mara and Tisch agreed age isn't a concern with Coughlin.
Reese seemed more disappointed than his owners. He spent the offseason shoring up the defense by signing Grant and fellow safety Antrel Rolle, signing offensive tackle Shawn Andrews late in training camp and drafting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and punter Dodge.
Manning might be the poster child for this team. The former Super Bowl MVP threw for 4,002 yards and 31 touchdowns along with his 25 interceptions.
"I put a lot on my shoulders, and I have to get better," Manning said. "I'm not a 25-interception quarterback. That's got to be fixed. That's on me and the receivers and everybody, but most of it's on me."
Coughlin said there were times that Manning simply tried to do too much this season. However, the coach was just as quick to point out that many of the picks either came off the hands of receivers or were the result of the team being down late and playing catch-up.
"If you want to look at one reason why we are not in the playoffs, it's we turned the ball over," said O'Hara, who probably will have surgery to correct ankle problems that limited him to six games this season.
Despite the five-quarter lapse in the Philadelphia and Green Bay games, New York's defense played well under new coordinator Perry Fewell, who is bound to receive a couple of head-coaching interviews.
"As a team, we left a lot on the table," Bulluck said. "It's like we set the table, but we didn't eat. We let other people come eat the food that we laid out all nicely. It's an unsettling feeling."
Reese said there will be some changes, but it's hard to say how many, especially with the potential of a lockout looming if the players and owners can't reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The only question is, will there be football games to finish in 2011?
"There will be football next year," Tuck predicted. "I don't know when it'll be, but this is a big business. A lot of people stand to lose a lot of money if we don't play, so we'll play."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press