Sunday, December 28, 2014

Giants Mistakes Ruin 2014 Finale, Now Mara Must Decide Coughlin's Future

EAGLES 34
GIANTS 26

The Giants season could not have ended any worse. A microcosm of a lost season, the Giants put together another inconsistent performance against their division rivals from Philadelphia. There were moments of brilliance, moments of frustration and moments of ineptitude all afternoon in a 34-26 defeat at MetLife Stadium. That is what happens when a team finishes 6-10 on the season.

The Giants got off to a fast start. They took the opening drive 80-yards on six plays, culminating on a one-yard plunge by Andre Williams, then watched the Eagles chew up their awful defense. Mark Sanchez, of all people, chewed up the Giants woeful secondary on the Eagles first possession, when he connected on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews to tie the game at seven only one minute into the drive.

While Sanchez wasn't great, he turned it over once and was sacked four times, the Giants allowed him to move around the pocket to make plays with receivers who had all day to run.
Is this the last of Tom Coughlin?

Later in the first quarter with the game tied at seven, Sanchez heaved a pass down field into double coverage that was intercepted by Stevie Brown. However the officials called pass interference on Giants safety, number 39, Chykie Brown, negating the pick. It was a horrendous call, there was clearly no pass interference, but it was too late the call was made. The penalty gave the Eagles great field position inside the Giants red zone, and obviously propelled them to a 14-7 lead.

It wasn't like the Giants didn't have chances. They had three extensive drives into Eagles territory, all of which stalled inside the red zone, including one drive that was the result of a Sanchez interception. The Giants settled for three field goals on those drives to take a 16-14 lead, but if New York actually scored a touchdown, even once, it could have been the difference in this game.

The Giants inability to score in the red zone came back to bite them as Philadelphia drove down field for a last second field goal at the half to take the lead back. Then, after a Giants three-and-out in the third quarter Trey Burton broke through the middle to block a Steve Weatherford punt. Burton picked up the loose ball and dashed into the end zone to make it 24-16 Eagles; the Giants chances were slipping away for good.

Even with the loss there were still some bright spots. Odell Beckham Jr. had his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, with 185-yards and a touchdown on the day. Rueben Randle had another 100-yard receiving day in his own right. Perhaps that signals to ownership that Ben McAdoo's offense made enough strides down the stretch to warrant the O.C.'s return.

Speaking of ownership, the ball is now in the court of John Mara and Steve Tisch. While GM Jerry Reese appears safe, there has been nothing but speculation about Tom Coughlin's job security all season.

Coughlin, who completed his 11th season as head coach, will be 69-years-old next season. Do the Giants want to have an aging coach return after a number of subpar seasons? Is it time for a younger voice? No doubt, Coughlin has earned the right to return in 2015. His success with this franchise that includes two Super Bowl titles, and the fact that this team never gave up this year are a testament to his leadership.

But the question about the length of Coughlin's stay will continue into 2015 and beyond. The Giants must have a contingency plan in place in case they depart from Coughlin now, or even next season. In fact, if Coughlin does return for 2015 there needs to be an understanding that this will be the final year of his tenure. The Giants can not go down this road forever, eventually they and Coughlin will have to move on.

That being said, the 2014 season finale might have been the last shot for a number of Coughlin's coaches, most notably Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell. While his defense dealt with a number of injures, it does not excuse the fact that the unit was horrible. They gave up 400 points this year, one of 10 teams to do so. All ten of those teams missed the postseason this year. The Giants were ranked 28th in total defense, 17th against the pass and 30th against the run. Changes have to be made to defensive side of the ball.

As for McAdoo, he might get a mulligan this year, since it was his first year as an offensive coordinator, and the Giants offense did see improvement as the season wore on, especially quarterback Eli Manning who threw for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and completed over 64 percent of his passes. Expect McAdoo to be back, albeit on a short leash.

My prediction: Coughlin returns in 2015 with an understanding that this will be his last year. Meanwhile, the Giants get a defensive coordinator who could become the heir to the Giants head coaching throne after next season.

No comments: