It’s been an undeniably painful year for the New York Giants (5-7). They’ve repeatedly blown double-digit fourth-quarter leads, they haven’t finished games and six of their seven losses have come by a combined 18 points.
The Giants are still very much alive in the woeful NFC East, but Sunday’s overtime loss to the Jets – New York’s third straight loss and fourth in five games – certainly didn’t do much for morale.
Or Tom Coughlin’s job security.
“I don’t think it’s fully over yet,” Tiki Barber said of the Coughlin era, “but if they play like they did last week and this week for the next four weeks, it will be over.”
Barber, of course, spent his entire 10-year career in the NFL, while Brandon Tierney is a lifelong Jets fan. Tierney couldn’t believe some of Coughlin’s decisions Sunday, saying it seems like the 69-year-old has “forgotten how to coach.”
“To me, it feels like he’s desperate to make things happen,” Barber said. “And in any sport, particularly the NFL because it’s so intricate – (you depend) on this to happen to make this happen to make this happen – all of that matters in football. It’s different in baseball where you get lucky and some dude just starts banging home runs and guys get on base. It’s different in football. With me, when I look at this Giants team, I feel like not only are they a one-trick pony – and it’s not even a one-track pony; it’s more like a one-option pony: Odell Beckham Jr, make a big play. Otherwise, we don’t have the ability to go grind out a score.”
Beckham had six catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 72-yard reception. Aside from that, the offense was fairly quiet, with only one other receiver, Will Tye, finishing with more than 22 receiving yards. As for the running game? Non-existent. The Giants rushed 24 times for 74 yards (3.1 yards per carry).
“I feel like this team is desperate,” Barber said. “It feels like (Coughlin is) getting desperate to force his team to win. Like, ‘I can make this team win. I can make this team play better in situations, and if they don’t,’ – which they often don’t – ‘I’m going to make a play call or a decision that’s going to galvanize us and we’re going to get behind it. And when it works, we’re going to say, Yeah, we’re all together.’ That’s all good and well – until it doesn’t happen. And the reason it’s not happening is because they’re just not good enough.”
The turning point Sunday came in the fourth quarter when the Giants, despite having a 10-point lead, elected to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the Jets’ 4-yard line instead of kicking a chip shot field goal. A touchdown, for all intents and purposes, would have put the game out of reach, but a field goal would have required the Jets to score two touchdowns with less than nine minutes remaining. The Jets had only scored one touchdown through 3+ quarters, but Coughlin rolled the dice – and he paid for it.
Manning threw an interception on 4th-and-2, and the Jets came back to win the game in overtime.
“That’s ultimately why they lost this game,” Barber said. “Momentum shifts in the National Football League. People don’t want to acknowledge it sometimes, but when momentum shifts, it very rarely goes back the other way. . . . The Giants don’t have the talent. They don’t have the talent. And here’s the ironic thing: Tom Coughlin came flying in on a message of, ‘We’re going to eliminate injuries. It’s a cancer to the organization’ – basically throwing daggers at Jim Fassel on his way out because guys couldn’t stay healthy. This team has been injured and beat up for years, this Giants team. If you can’t keep your stars on the filed, you’re not going to win. Is that the head coach’s fault? Of course not. But if Jim Fassel is going to get the blame for injuries, then Tom Coughlin also has to get the blame for injuries.”