By Steve Silverman
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There was a time when most coaches like Tom Coughlin were the rule in the NFL.
Coughlin is clearly in charge of his team. He may have lightened up quite a bit over the last decade and found a way to relate to his players, but the Giants are still his team.
Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy work the same way, but head coaches in today’s NFL seem to be more interested in building coalitions than they do in exerting their own authority.
Head coaches are more inclined to hide behind organizational decisions, and that sends the wrong message. You want strength at the head-coaching position. You don’t want someone who needs to curry favor with the press, the fans or the players.
No, it can’t be done Vince Lombardi-style or Don Shula-style any longer. Those all-time great coaches would have had to adjust at least somewhat, because today’s players require more explanation. But down deep, football players want to be coached by a man who knows more about the game than they do.
That’s one of the reasons that the Giants will have a chance next year when Coughlin returns to coach the team for his 11th year with the organization. He has not allowed his authority to have been usurped.
Coughlin’s players and assistants still respect him for a lot of reasons, including his knowledge of the game. He still has the ability to outthink the guy on the opposite sideline, although it is getting more challenging.
When the Giants convene again next year, Coughlin must do it with an eye on what is going on in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly has proven quite a bit this year as he prepares his team for its decisive game with the Dallas Cowboys.
Kelly may have been greeted with a lot of skepticism when the Eagles hired him away from the Oregon Ducks, but he has built a prolific offense and found the right quarterback in Nick Foles to lead his team.
As long as Coughlin can build a game plan to counter Kelly and the game’s other deep thinkers, he still belongs on the sidelines.
But he can’t do it on his own. The Giants have to bring in new talent, particularly at the running-back slot and the linebacking crew.
The Giants rank 30th on offense this year and are 31st in running the football. When they can’t do anything on the ground, that has created a ton of pressure on Eli Manning. He has not been able to handle it.
Despite his two Super Bowl victories, he is not the kind of quarterback who can carry a team for a full season. While he has shown he can do just that when it matters most in the postseason, he needs help from his ground game and defense during the 16 games of the regular season.
The Giants don’t get the defensive support from their linebackers either. Outside of Jon Beason, the Giants don’t have the linebackers to make enough plays against the run or drop back into coverage.
If they can’t build up both of these areas in the offseason, the Giants could be destined to repeat.
The Giants need an upgrade in personnel, not on the coaching staff. General manager Jerry Reese needs to spend less time worrying about the salary cap and more time finding talent.
If that doesn’t happen in the upcoming offseason, Reese is the one who needs to be on notice, not New York’s aging coach.
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