The team will have to justify keeping him on if they lose to the Cowboys tonight. He is an upstanding guy with loads of integrity and will be difficult to replace. But this is New York, and there is new stadium that needs to be paid for, so conventional thinking may be cast aside during the decision process.
You can make a case for keeping him. But then again, you can make the opposite case as well.
Fact: Coughlin has a Super Bowl ring and will soon be the team's second most-tenured coach after monolith Jim Lee Howell. He has a record of 73-54 in Blue - a .575 winning percentage with just one losing record in his eight seasons on the sidelines.
Fact: Coughlin is 4-3 in the postseason, with all of his wins coming during the 2007 Super Bowl run. The Giants made the playoffs in three other seasons, but were one-and-done. Plus, they missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Fact: The Giants have spent oodles of high draft picks on augmenting their defense, and although they have brought in some exceptional athletes, the unit has actually gotten worse. That is a direct reflection on the coaching staff.
Knowing the Giants, they will sit down with Tom when this is all over and extend his contract. But just his contract. His coordinators will be grilled. The brass will make them sing for their supper. Some will get to sit back down to the table. Others won't.
OC Kevin Gilbride will most likely be retained. Eli Manning will fight to keep him. ST coach Tom Quinn will get a stay. DC Perry Fewell will probably be sent packing.
Gilbride is a solid OC. He works well with Manning and the offense has set multiple records under his watch. Unheralded players such as Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard have emerged as offensive forces under his tutelage. He does, however, madden the populace with untimely lapses of consciousness. His play calling can be inexplicably stale, mainly at times that call for more imagination.
Quinn has benefitted from the new league rules that moved the kickoff line up five yards. The coverage and return teams have stabilized. Swapping out the inconsistent Matt Dodge for the more Feagles-like Steve Weatherford at punter has helped greatly. K Lawrence Tynes has stayed healthy and has been consistent all year. Specialists Devin Thomas and Da'Rel Scott (along with Jerrel Jernigan) have added some pop to the return game.
Fewell had to deal with what we call the defensive injury-du-jour this year. He lost six defensive backs for the season, including the team's leading tackler the past two seasons in Terrell Thomas. He also lost his MLB - Jonathan Goff - for the year during the preseason.
Not a big deal you say? It is when you have no Plan B. Goff was the guy the Giants relied on to the signals and get everyone lined up. When he went down, they lost all semblance of order on that defense.
Throw in the lost seasons of first and second round picks CB Prince Amukamara and DT Marvin Austin, and the hobbling efforts of Pro Bowl DEs Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and you have a recipe for disaster.
Fewell will pay the price if Dallas gets past the Giants tonight. Doesn't seem fair when you look deeply into it. But something will have to be done. Three years with no playoffs has to be addressed.