Tom Coughlin Doesn't Want Your Pity

Coughlin's future with Giants relies on injury-riddled roster

There would be something darkly funny about Tom Coughlin winding up unemployed after the 2011 season because his defense wound up taking over a wing at one of our local hospitals.

If you recall, it was Coughlin who came in mocking Jim Fassel's teams for getting hurt all the time and proclaiming that his Giants teams would never find themselves in such a predicament. It was a ridiculous thing to say then and seems even more ridiculous now that Coughlin is overseeing a team more banged up than any that Fassel ran during his tenure.

At least Coughlin is consistent about not accepting injuries as an excuse for anything other than a bigger than expected bill from the doctors. He spoke to reporters on Wednesday and said that he wasn't expecting or accepting notes of sympathy about his team's plight.

"There's a number of defensive players we were counting on that are not going to be with us, you can't hide that fact," Coughlin said. "But still we have what we have and we're going forward with it. We accept the challenge, look at it as another form of adversity and on we go...Guys press on. It's not an excuse, we got a job to do, got to go do it."

And Coughlin really needs the team to go do it. He signed a one-year extension after last season, something that was essentially seen as a challenge to end the team's playoff drought or move on into the sunset in favor of someone else.

At the time it seemed like a really fair deal, especially with a lockout looming. Coughlin hasn't made the postseason in two years, but he won 10 games last season and clearly got a better effort from his team than he got in 2009.

That's worth one more shot and it is hard to come up with any sensible argument why Coughlin would deserve another contract if he missed the playoffs once again with a talented roster he's molded into the team that he wants to coach. Win or go home was the best choice for everyone involved.

Or it was the best choice before injuries consumed the roster and Jerry Reese spent the free agency period napping so that he could stock the roster with players with no ties to anyone but him. Suddenly, the prospect of going 9-7 and missing the playoffs seems like a heroic effort from a coach who is trying to win a poker hand with nothing better than a pair of sevens.

He would have earned another year in that regard, but, much to his chagrin, he only would have earned it because people sympathized with his plight. He'd probably still accept the contract, but he'd also probably do it with a little bit more respect for what Fassel and other coaches have had to deal with over the years.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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