For some silly reason I have picked the New York Giants to cover three times this year. Each time they have failed to do so. No more. This Giants team is headed for a coaching shake-up if they don’t get their act together.
I think Tom Coughlin is a good coach and doesn’t really deserve to be fired. But the simple truth is that if Coughlin didn’t have two Super Bowl rings, he would have gotten axed a long time ago. Assuming there is no epic turnaround this year, it will mean that the Giants have only made the playoffs once in the past five seasons under Coughlin. Over their past 16 games, the Giants sport a 6-10 record. Their defense has given up 30 or more points every game this year, and did so in two of their three final games last season. They’ve now turned the ball over 20 times in their first five games, more than the 19 the 2012 Chiefs gave up in that same span, and the most since the ’97 Saints.
Next week the Giants face the Bears, which probably will be a loss. But if they don’t reel off three straight wins after that point against teams like the Vikings, Eagles, and Raiders, then I think Coughlin has to go. Super Bowls don’t buy you that much leeway especially when there are long-time rumors that Bill Cowher wants the job.
The Houston Texans are a fascinating team with coaching questions as well. Going into this week, they ranked 1st in the league in total defense, but 23rd in the league in scoring defense. I’ve never heard of that since usually it’s the opposite. They have been a “break but don’t bend” defense, with one of the league’s premier passing defenses, yet they give up points rather easily. Like Coughlin, Gary Kubiak’s job security is very tenuous at this point.
Kubiak’s problem is that while his Texans teams have been successful the past two years, he had five seasons where he built very little credit league-wide. Houston was an average team for those five years under him, and after ascending into one of the better teams in 2011, expectations now are much higher. This is a team that I expected to be competing with Denver for the best record in the AFC this season. But the Texans suffer from questions about their quarterback, a very conservative and predictable offense, and an underachieving but talent-laden defense.
The fact that they just suffered their second shellacking of the season on the road doesn’t help things. Losing to the 49ers by 31 on Sunday, after a 21-point loss to Baltimore two weeks ago is not the sign of a championship-caliber team. In between, they choked away a 20-3 halftime lead against Seattle last week.
In terms of coaches on the hot seat, it’s really not about the wins and losses, rather it’s about how good you look. And for the Texans and Giants, both teams have looked really bad in their losses. The best word to describe it is inept. Those sort of performances are what we expect out of teams that win 3 or 4 games all year long. The Giants were a team that looked capable of winning 8-10 games this year, while the Texans were a team that should have skated to at least 11 wins this year. If the Giants are only a 4 or 5-win team this year, that’s dramatic underachieving. If the Giants were able to get their season back on track and get to 6 or 7 wins, you might be able to excuse that and keep Coughlin around.
I’d be surprised if the Texans don’t get to at least to 8-8 this year. And if they can get things back on track, a 10-6 record seems achievable. But both teams are ripe for change along the sidelines if things don’t change, and don’t so quickly.