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Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan Breathing Similar Air These Days

Both coaches have a lot at stake at end of a frustrating season

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Someone's getting a lump of coal this weekend.

    No one would ever confuse Tom Coughlin for Rex Ryan.

    They run their teams differently, dress differently, express themselves differently and have few similarities beyond the fact that they each write down "football coach" on their tax returns. Despite all of those differences, both Coughlin and Ryan head into Saturday's game with a lot more than just a win or a loss at stake.

    For Coughlin, a loss could well be the end of his long run as coach of the Giants. It doesn't much feel like ownership wants to make a change and you could make a strong argument that the team's results have more to do with Jerry Reese's machinations and injuries than anything Coughlin's done, but a loss to the Jets might make it difficult to avoid the ax.

    It would mean that the team lost two straight games with their season on the line while playing at home against teams that no one could honestly describe as being particularly good. It would also mean that Coughlin would have overseen yet another second half that destroyed everything good the team accomplished during the first eight weeks of the season. 

    As much as people respect and admire the job Coughlin has done with the Giants, another year without a playoff spot (which a loss to the Jets doesn't guarantee, but makes much more likely) and a soul-crushing loss to the Jets might be a bridge too far for fans to cross again with much faith that things are going to be different the next time around.

    Or it could be the day we realize that the Jets' emperor has no clothes. Ryan's job isn't on the line, but he's got quite a bit of skin in the game all the same.

    This year started with all of the same bluster from Ryan about Super Bowl titles, even though it was clear from Day 1 that this year's team wasn't as good as the two AFC Championship losers from his first two seasons. Overpromising is nothing new from Ryan, obviously, but failing to deliver at anything resembling the necessary level is a change from past seasons.

    And the way they've failed to deliver makes Ryan look like a bad coach. He's consistently told us that his roster has talent everywhere you look, which means that Ryan has to be the problem with a team that has underperformed the way the Jets have underperformed in 2011. 

    There's another option, of course. Ryan could also be lying when it comes to the talent on this team and an assessment based on everything other than his words would find that he is, indeed, guilty of not telling the truth. 

    Even if people always knew Ryan was overdoing it, the results made it possible to believe in the words coming out of his mouth. Losing to this Giants team at this juncture in the season punctures that illusion and makes it easier for people inside and outside the team to tune out Ryan.

    Two very different coaches, but the same miserable holiday for the loser.

    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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