CINCINNATI – Tom Coughlin was granted immunity from John Mara‘s prosecution. He still has his job. But a third straight Giants collapse in 2010 is going to put Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch in a decision-making predicament.
Coughlin’s Super Bowl victory two years ago rightfully earned him a four-year, $21 million contract through 2011 and an extended honeymoon period. But the last two years have been a disaster: The Giants were 11-1 and the best team in the NFL coming down the stretch in 2008, but didn’t win a playoff game in the post-Plax chaos. This season they started 5-0, but didn’t make the playoffs after losing eight of their last 11 and showed no heart or Giants pride in humiliating losses to the Panthers and Vikings the final two weeks.
If Coughlin hadn’t won the Super Bowl two years ago, what happened this year was a fireable offense.
Mara was not going to fire Coughlin, and shouldn’t have, but when he said last week, “I’m disappointed in everything. I’m unhappy at everybody,” that certainly included Coughlin, who went from pushing every right button during the Super Bowl run to having no feel for this team and no clue how to fix things when everything started to unravel. He fired two defensive coaches last week, but he must be held accountable, too. Another bad year, well, this is not a lifetime appointment.
What happens if 2010 is just as disappointing or worse than 2009? It is certainly possible. Coughlin, who turns 64 in August, will have one year left on his contract after the ’10 season. The Giants typically either fire or extend their coaches who have one year remaining.
Here’s the options on Coughlin if the Giants are bad again next season:
- Fire him. Thank him for putting the third Super Bowl trophy in the lobby and give him a couple of the unsold club seats and waive the $20,000 PSL as a going-away present. This is a big business and even with the fans locked in financially after buying the PSLs, winning still counts.
- Give him a one-year extension. That’s what the Giants did after the 2006 season. Coughlin reinvented himself in ’07 and the Giants won the Super Bowl. If the Giants don’t want to fire Coughlin and he wants to keep coaching, this would be the compromise alternative.
- Sign him to another long-term deal. Unless the Giants win a playoff game or two, this is completely unrealistic.
The momentum is building towards a lockout in 2011. Teams are going to be reluctant to take on additional expenses with the uncertainty about how much of the season will be played. This could lead to the Giants breaking team policy by having Coughlin coach the final year of his deal rather than paying him $5.25 million and then spending money on a new coach if the labor situation is unsettled.
Carroll-ing in Seattle
If Mark Sanchez had stayed at USC for his senior year, there’s a slim chance he could have been reunited in Seattle next season with Pete Carroll, who reportedly has agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal to be the coach of the Seahawks. The ‘Hawks are picking sixth and need a QB, but with the Rams picking first and the Redskins fourth, chances are one of those teams would have drafted Sanchez before Carroll had a shot at him. … Carroll was making $4.4 million per year at Southern Cal and now will get $7 million per. Carroll is leaving the kingdom he built at USC, where he won two national titles and had a 97-19 mark in nine years, and returning to the NFL, where he was fired as the head coach of the Jets after one season (’94) and the Patriots (’97-’99) after three seasons, although he made the playoffs twice. Carroll had a 33-31 regular-season record with the Jets and Pats and was 1-2 in the playoffs with the Patriots. Carroll flirted with the 49ers and Dolphins a few years ago, but with USC coming off a disappointing season and the NCAA investigating issues with Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight, and the Seahawks having a hands-off owner in Paul Allen, who’s offering lots of money, this is a good time for him to go. How will he do back in the NFL? His style definitely seems more suited to college.
Mike and Mangini
Mike Holmgren‘s decision to retain Eric Mangini and let him try and build on his season-ending four-game winning streak was fair. If the Browns go 5-11 again, then Holmgren can try and talk Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth. Gruden worked for Holmgren in Green Bay. Who is the most likely candidate to replace Mangini if the Browns stink next season? Keep this name in mind: Holmgren. After sitting out the 2009-10 seasons, he could be back. He has not ruled out coaching again.
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