For the Giants to make a run, Coughlin must keep his cool

By Andy Targovnik  |   Thursday, November 30, 2006  |  Comments( 1 )

New York Giants
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In September 1996, the New York Yankees let a 12-game lead in the American League East whittle down to just 2.5 over the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankee players had every reason to panic.

But manager Joe Torre calmly addressed his team before that night's game.

"Relax everybody; we're going to win this thing," he said.

The Yankees won their next two games and never looked back, eventually winning the World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Now, baseball is certainly not football by any stretch of the imagination. Football is a much more brutal and emotional game. And without question, coaches are going to be more theatrical on the sideline. But there's a big difference between being emotive, and being out of control.

Unfortunately for the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin was the latter against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. And while that certainly was not the sole reason they lost, it sure didn't help.

After rookie Mathias Kiwanuka could have ended the game with a sack, but let Vince Young out of his grasp, Coughlin threw his hands up, charged at Kiwanuka and berated him.

Coaches yell at players on the sidelines all the time. Super Bowl-winning coaches like Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden snap at their players frequently.

But they do it in a controlled and strategic manner - not as a knee-jerk reaction. However, when Coughlin chewed out Kiwanuka, it wasn't motivational; he had simply lost his composure.

When the game started to slip away, the Giant players needed to see their head coach under control - some reassurance that as bad as it looked, they were going to win the game. Instead, though, the head coach looked panicked. And when that's the case, how can you expect the players to stay poised?

This is not to place all the blame on Coughlin. The players certainly were as responsible as him for the collapse.

But had he somehow managed to pull his team together and they escaped with a win, maybe it could have warmed up what has been an icy relationship between them since he arrived in New York.

The good news is the Giants are still very much in the playoff hunt. As a matter of fact, they will probably win the division if they beat the Dallas Cowboys this coming Sunday. Some of their injured players will be back. So they can still salvage their season.

Right now, though, the Giant team is like a rubber band that is stretched to the limit. Keep stretching it and it will snap. But figure out a way to ease the stress, and it will still be as good as ever.

So Coughlin has to find a way to pull his team's strings before the season becomes a lost cause. He has to make these New York Football Giants believe that they can overcome last Sunday's disaster. And although the players don't love him, they have enough respect for his football acumen that he can pull it off.

He just has to push the right buttons -- a task much easier said than done. But, hey, nobody said that being an NFL coach was a walk in the park.

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