“It’s not going to be the history, believe me. I know that this is something fanatically involved with all of you but each team is a new team and each team is a new year.” So Tom Coughlin told meddlesome sportswriters at a press conference yesterday. Coughlin left out one thing: Every year in the last eight he has been the head coach of the New York Giants, and every one of those years — and this is what he was complaining about when someone brought up the subject again — the Giants have played very well in the first half of the season and flopped in the second.
That is, every season from 2004 through this one. Many have commented on the fact that the Giants under Coughlin play better in the first half than in the second. To my knowledge no one has pointed out how well they’ve played in the first half and how truly crappy they’ve been in the second half. Let’s review:
Over the previous eight seasons the Giants have been one of the elite teams in the NFL through the first eight games with a 42-17 record for a .712 winning percentage. In the second half, they have been ten games under .500, 24-34 for a .414 W-L%.
What accounts for this? I don’t know. No analyst I’ve read has been able to figure it out. Tom Coughlin seems to have not a clue; if anything, he seems to be in denial about the fact that it happens. But as the Giants prepare to play the New Orleans Saints tonight, one thing is certain: If flopping in the second half of the season — and the Giants are 0-2 so far in this second half — is not going to be history, then they are going to have to erase an awful lot of history under Coughlin. And they’re going to have to do it under hugely adverse circumstances.
Let’s concentrate on just the next two weeks. The Giants, ranked 21st in the league in yards allowed, will be facing the two best passers in the league — Aaron Rodgers next Sunday with only six days rest and Drew Brees tonight. How good is Brees? Well, he’s leading the NFL in yards/game at 333, commercials (including a Vicks VapoRub spot with his 3-year-old son), and books, Coming Back Stronger.
Coughlin and the Giants are out of time, out of excuses, and out of explanations. If they don’t start to reverse this trend tonight, another season is down the tubes. (BTW, Brees is 3-0 against Coughlin’s Giants with seven TDs and no interceptions.) And if Coughlin doesn’t come up with something to change this history, then his contract extension notwithstanding, he’s going to be history himself.