An interesting article in the New York Times by Lynn Zisner got me thinking about Coughlin’s impact on the Giants.
1. I like his coaching style. By all accounts he is very strict but he explains the reasons behind his rules. Players aren’t left wondering “why is he doing that?”
2. The jury is still out on his ability to prepare the Giants to win. After four straight wins, fans were praising Coughlin for getting more consistent play out of the Gaints than Fassel had been. After the Giants took a step back against Detroit, they have something to prove. Coughlin has to show us that he can get this team ready to play every week.
3. Play-calling has to improve. I’ve even heard some fans comparing Coughlin’s offense to Fassel’s – Fassel won that comparison. Fans complain that the Giants don’t go deep, don’t use their receiving weapons, are unimaginative in the red zone.
I should start by saying that the Giants did attempt two long balls against the Lions. Both were near misses. You can blame Warner for being a few inches off. You can blame Shockey and Toomer for not going the extra inch, or you can chalk it up to bad luck. The risky play calling is there. It’s just not working.
As for Toomer and Hilliard, I also wonder where they’ve been. It seems that sometimes Warner misses an open receiver, but more often it seems that the Giants receivers aren’t doing a great job getting open. Much of the blame for this can be placed on Toomer and Hilliard, but Coughlin’s job is to get them in a position where they can be open. Coughlin needs to do better, but improved play from the receivers would go a long way…
My biggest criticism of Coughlin is his short yardage play calling. The Giants offensive line can’t move an 8 man front. They always seem to end up going backwards. Finn can’t push the pile. Dayne can’t push the pile or get outside. The other real problem is that opponents always know what’s coming. How many times have you seen Dayne come in on short yardage? How many times did the Giants run him? Can we please try something else? If your opponent knows what you’re going to do and you’re not very good at it, you fail.
Conclusion: All in all, Coughlin has done well preparing the Giants 2/3 of the time, meaning he’s gotten them to play well 4 out of 6 games (I count the Redskins game as playing well but the offense really shouldn’t be included). In school 67% is not too good. In the NFL you could be talking playoffs. However, Giants fans can’t seriously talk about playoffs until they score in the red zone (Coughlin’s job is to find some answers but he hasn’t) and stop opponents in the red zone (the Giants defense has to play like they did against Green Bay week in and week out).
So far Coughlin gets a passing grade, a ‘C’. Giants football is interesting again. He doesn’t get an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ because he has been making mistakes (and not learning from them – see Dayne’s short yardage adventures) and hasn’t gotten the Giants to play their best football consistently.