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You know things are bad for the Giants when the best Tom Coughlin can offer during his Wednesday press conference is that the team should cling to the fact that the Packers have played three close games on the road this year.
That's hardly a page from the Knute Rockne book of motivational speaking. It's not dishonest, either, but there's not much positive to take from the coach's words about the mountain that looms before his team this Sunday.
If Coughlin has something better to offer, now would be a good time to put it forward. Should the Giants lose this Sunday, they'll have lost four straight games and stripped away just about everything they accomplished during the first eight weeks of the season.
That is going to lead to a lot of calls for the end of the Coughlin era, and not just from Tiki Barber. Just like you know Christmas is getting close when the lights start popping up on Fifth Avenue, you know things are going south for Big Blue when Barber decides to renew his one-man assault on Coughlin's virtue.
The annual calls for Coughlin's head has never led to anything more than a shuffling of assistant coaches that winds up providing pretty much the same results as the previous regime. At 65 and with a relatively meaningless year left on his contract, a third straight season of disappointment has Coughlin more vulnerable than he has ever been before.
Plenty of people are rallying in support of the coach. Johnette Howard of ESPNNewYork.com, Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com are just some of the folks shifting the blame for what's gone wrong with the Giants to people other than Coughlin and arguing that he shouldn't lose his job because he's been handed a bum deck of cards.
There's no doubt that plenty of people share the blame for the mess that the Giants have made of things in the last three weeks, but the idea that Coughlin isn't one of them is fairly ludicrous. If you're going to credit a coach for doing a great job when things go right, you can't just stand back and say that he has no bearing on things going wrong.
Especially when things go wrong the same way so many times in a row and the coach's response to it is to put the blame solely on the players by saying they were well prepared but unable to execute. Again, you can't just stand up to take the compliments in the good times before running and hiding when the darkness comes.
Coughlin isn't a bad coach, far from it, and he hasn't done a terrible job with the team this season. But no matter what other reasons there are to blame for all that has gone wrong in the last three-and-a-half seasons, Coughlin has been the constant and you can't just ignore that.
Does that mean he should be sent packing if the Giants miss the playoffs? We've got five weeks to figure that out, but it certainly needs to be part of the discussion for a team that is stuck in the NFL version of Groundhog Day.