By Jason Keidel
» More Columns
It may not sound sexy, but one reason to keep a coach is there isn't a regal replacement on the market.
Between his sprawling bio and Super Bowl history, it made sense for the Giants to hang onto long-time coach and coaching lifer, Tom Coughlin, who had just as many rings as the revered Bill Parcells, and more success over the last decade than anyone not named Belichick.
But after a while, after all the losses, the clear decline, and season after season slipping through his formerly epic grip, Coughlin appears closer to retirement than ever.
Retirement is a kind, clever euphemism, of course. Forced retirement. Fired. Canned. Booted. Whatever your verb, there's no soft way to take Coughlin out of the equation.
While Gang Green is flourishing, fresh off an upset of the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the Giants are plunging down the rungs of relevance, about to vanish into their fourth frigid January in a row.
As with the last three years, the Giants have gone out with a whimper. Despite Teddy Bridgewater completing just 15 passes for 168 yards, the Vikings smashed the Giants on Sunday night on national television. It was another public execution of the G-Men in December, and perhaps the September Song for their head coach.
Sure, they were without their best player, Odell Beckham Jr., and their next best player, Eli Manning, threw three picks. But there's no excuse for this brand of brutal play over an entire season.
Forget all the "what if" algorithms. Forget the solemn Sundays, when they blew leads with less than a minute left. Playoff teams find ways to win those games. And forlorn franchises, like the recent Giants, lose them.
While we can wonder where the Giants would be if they'd just hung on to beat teams like the Cowboys, Jets, and Patriots, we are left with the eternal mantra from the patron saint of the Meadowlands, who said you are what your record says you are. Take it from the man who coached the Jets and the Giants. Bill Parcells was right when he said it, and his coda is just as clear and true today.
If the Giants are going to have a new start in 2016 they need new leadership. If they are to have new leadership, they need a new regime. If they want a new regime, they need a new head coach.
Cynics assert that Coughlin has his mail forwarded to the hot seat because he's the oldest coach in the NFL, and that we're always quick to kick the old man to the curb.
In fact, the opposite has been true with Coughlin. No coach or manager in NYC sports has enjoyed a longer leash. No field general has enjoyed more second chances. No leader has lived on his past more than Coughlin.
And rightfully so. Coughlin has been steady and successful. And when you win two rings, you've earned a load of latitude.
But the Beckham implosion was more than a metaphor or microcosm. It was proof positive that Coughlin has not only lost his magic wand, but his longtime control over his players. No sport relies on its coach more than football. No team takes its tone, tenor, and temerity more than an NFL club. Which is why great coaches, on all levels, are so coveted and paid so well.
It's why Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Bill Belichick can name their paychecks, pluck their personnel, and pick their assistants.
No sport is more tethered to the zero-sum calculus of wins and losses. And during his first eight seasons, Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls and 58 percent of his regular-season games, going 74-54. Over the last four seasons, he's won zero playoff contests and, if he loses this Sunday, 44 percent of his regular-season games (28-36).
There's nothing more sad or inelegant than watching an icon in repose. No one has represented a team, a town, or a time better than Tom Coughlin.
No one wants to see him go. But if you want the Giants to win again, he has to go.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
for more features.