By Ernie Palladino
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John Mara and Steve Tisch may well decide in the immediate future to keep Tom Coughlin around for at least the 2015 season.
But that doesn’t mean that change should not come to the Giants.
Obviously, we’re not talking about the total housecleaning that is due the Jets, even after beating Miami in Sunday’s season finale. But it was clear despite Coughlin’s sugar-coating of his team’s 34-26 loss to the Eagles that their 6-10 season deserves at least some sort of internal shakeup.
Replacing defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and special teams coach Tom Quinn might be a good start, or end for that matter.
Take away the surge in which the Giants went 3-1 over the final month. They beat a bunch of nobodies, though at least they handled Tennessee and Washington in convincing fashion.
But their performance Sunday underlined one of the major problems they’ve had all season. They were unable to get off the field at key times.
And the special teams, an up-and-down affair for most of the season, finished on a decidedly down note.
Twenty-seven-yard touchdown returns of blocked punts will do that. If Steve Weatherford gets off that third-quarter punt, there is a good likelihood that the Giants keep the momentum and win. Instead, James Casey charges up the middle, easily blocks the kick, and Trey Burton picks it up for a 24-16 lead that would eventually turn into a 31-19 advantage.
Quinn has had his troubles over the years with special teams. Coughlin has always kept him around. But now, considering he and Weatherford already had a physical sideline altercation Dec. 7 in Nashville, the latest gaffe would, under any other coach, have sealed his fate.
Now, it will probably be up to Coughlin to make that call again. Or, perhaps Mara and Tisch will firmly suggest that it is time for Quinn to go.
They should issue a similar directive regarding Fewell. Again, it was nice that the pass rush came alive for the last few games, but the Giants surely could have used it while the season still held some meaning. At that point, they ranked at the low end of the league. Need anybody see another replay of Tony Romo sitting and sliding behind his blocking for nine seconds to beat Fewell’s defense?
Former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s issues in the red zone were enough to force him into retirement last year. One would think that even with the many injuries incurred by defensive players, the overall result would prove cause enough to make another coordinator switch this year. And no, this is not a vacancy Rex Ryan would fit into. But someone like former Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just might ponder a return. Secondary coach Pete Giunta had three years of experience as a Rams defensive coordinator before he came to the Giants.
The point is, there are others who could potentially do a better job than Fewell has following JPP’s monster 16 1/2-sack season of 2011. And one is right here on staff.
The Giants have an entire offseason to address those spots, though first ownership must decide if they want to keep Coughlin around at all. The vibes coming out of MetLife Stadium indicate they probably will. And Coughlin’s cursory comment about his staff after the season finale indicated that none of his assistants will change if he returns.
He should keep an open mind, though. Sometimes, change is good. Not necessarily the kind of wholesale change the Jets are in for. But a little tinkering with the staff could produce an up-tick in the defense and special teams that the overall offense experienced this year.
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