Fate Of Tom Coughlin: The Stability Factor


In the National Football League, success seems to have a positive correlation with franchise stability. This is supported by the New England Patriots success over the past decade and a half under Bill Belichick. This is also supported by the Cleveland Browns continuous turmoil that has seen 8 head coaches since 1999. Stability is huge in professional football.

The New York Giants are at an important cross roads. With the glory of 2 Super Bowl championship seasons (2007 & 2011) all but faded away, and the sting of three straight playoff free seasons, is it time to fire Tom Coughlin? The promise of a new beginning is tempting and may even be what is called for. The problem is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. If the Giants want to keep stability they may want to keep the man that has won before.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are the example of stability in football. Bill Cowher was the Steelers coach from 1992-2006. In his first six years he had five double digit win seasons and a Super Bowl appearance. In 1998 things went south. The Steelers next three seasons resulted in a 7-9, 6-10 and a 9-7 record.

The Rooney’s stuck with Cowher. In 2003 they even kept him on as the head coach after a 6-10 season. In 2005 the Hall of Fame worthy coach had won a Super Bowl after knocking on the door so many times. Cowher’s walking off into the sunset is the ultimate example of what stability can do for a franchise.

Belichick’s first year in New England resulted in a 5-11 disappointment. Bob Kraft probably wondered if he had made a huge mistake. He was rewarded for giving Belichick a second chance, the Patriots won 3 out of the next 4 Super Bowls. The Patriots have had 13 seasons in Belichick’s tenure where they have won 10 or more games. Another argument for stability is made.

The argument against stability is in Cincinnati. Marvin Lewis has been the Bengals coach since 2003. He has had six seasons of 8-8 or worse, including two 12 loss seasons. While Lewis has won three AFC North titles, he is 0-5 in the playoffs. Last season, the Bengals lost at home to a San Diego Chargers team that barely snuck into the postseason.

Dec 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals have stuck with Lewis through some bad times and some really disappointing moments. While Lewis may reward Mike Brown‘s patience with success in this postseason, how many second chances can a team give a man?

Some may argue I should include Andy Reid into the coaches that got way to many chances list; though you can’t knock the Philadelphia Eagles for sticking with a guy who took you to four NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. It is just like you don’t fault the Buffalo Bills for sticking with the legendary Marv Levy for losing in four straight Super Bowls.

Now that we have explored all the data in the case of the importance of stability, lets examine the case for keeping Coughlin. Let’s be honest, this is not the first time people have been calling for Coughlin to be fired. In Coughlin’s first season he was 6-10.

In 2009 there were many people who wanted Coughlin gone when the 8-8 Giants missed the playoffs. The Giants were wise not to listen to the critics as they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 2011.

We know that Coughlin can win, provided that he has the talent. We know that Coughlin can make more out of less- the Super Bowl runs were examples of great coaching helping an underdog go all the way. We also know that finding the next great coach of the Giants is not an easy task.

Choosing the wrong coach can set teams going backwards for years; just ask the Browns and the Oakland Raiders. There is a strong argument for keeping a coach that you know can win.