If the season were nine games, Coughlin would have done enough, but the season isn't nine games.
It feels like the only thing we discuss more than Tom Coughlin's habit of coaching teams that close the season poorly is his job security.
With the exception of the Super Bowl year and the one following it, Coughlin's job security has always been a talking point around the Giants. It was hotly discussed at the end of last season and throughout the summer as Coughlin signed a one-year extension taking him through the end of 2012 that really wasn't an extension at all.
The Giants aren't going to have a coach as a lame duck next season. They will either extend Coughlin again or they will move in a different direction, so his age (he's the oldest NFL coach at 65) and recent lack of success (two years without a playoff berth) have plenty of people wondering what he needs to do in 2011 to return for another year.
Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News believes that Coughlin has done enough through nine games to return to the Giants sideline next season. Vacchiano lays out his argument soundly and he makes plenty of reasonable points in what is, when all is said and done, an unreasonable point of view.
Coughlin would almost certainly agree, assuming he holds himself to the same standard as his team. The coach has been preaching about finishing strong all season, using it to explain away shoddy play in the first three quarters of games the Giants win and as a permanent reminder that the Giants have let seasons get away from them far too often over the years.
Why then would you even begin to make a decision about next year before you get to the fourth quarter of this season? Vacchiano argues that Coughlin has done so much with so little (a strange read on a team that, even with injuries, has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball) through nine weeks that there's no reason to even think about another coach.
Coughlin's done very well this season, but the goal of a year is not to be 6-3 through nine weeks. The goals are to -- in ascending order -- make the playoffs, win the division, get a first-round bye, make the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. The coach hasn't accomplished any of those things yet.
It's true that the Giants have played very hard for Coughlin so far this year. It is also true that they quit on him in 2009 and that they failed to show up for the five most important quarters of their season last year. That has to matter in any reckoning, especially if anything similar should go down this season.
This isn't an argument against Coughlin. He's a very good coach who has done a very good job throughout his time with the Giants and there's no reason, as of yet, not to bring him back.
It's just that there isn't any reason to bring him back, either. You need the entire body of work before you can make an assessment or else we would have all stopped paying attention to the Giants when they fell flat on their faces in Washington in Week One.
It all counts. The good, the bad and the in-between. Any other argument just doesn't hold water.