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History Might Be Giants' Biggest Opponent This Season

Tom Coughlin's teams have always started well, but finishing has been a problem



    History Might Be Giants' Biggest Opponent This Season
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    The Giants are heading out to Seattle this weekend and their dismal history in that town, and on the West Coast in general, is on a lot of people's minds. That's a good lead-in to a discussion of another part of the team's history that should be of some concern.

    In his six years as Giants coach, Tom Coughlin's teams have always started with a record of 5-2 or 6-1 in the first seven games of the year. As any Giants fan knows, he's only had three winning seasons during his tenure, which by itself tells you that things have a way of going off the rails down the stretch.

    The raw numbers are even worse. The total record of 24-30 isn't pretty, although it is hard to ignore the impact of a 1-8 mark in 2004, Coughlin's first season on the job. Even if you take out that total collapse, however, Coughlin's teams have never posted a better winning percentage in the final nine games of a season than they have in the opening seven games. Some have still been good, Coughlin's teams have gone 6-3 twice, but, of course, only one of them has ever won a playoff game.

    One can pick and choose reasons why each team has shown slippage down the stretch. You can account for some of that simply becaue of the war of attrition that every team must fight to get to the end of a 16-game season. Not all of it, though, because other teams peak late while Coughlin's teams have consistently played their worst football in the final months of the year.

    There's also the issue of Coughlin's relationship with his players that seems to rear its head after every loss. The pendulum has swung between him being hated taskmaster and master motivator so many times that it's obvious neither is true, but it is hard to completely ignore the role that the coach plays in the results.

    It's easy to come up with reasons for why this year will be different. Ahmad Bradshaw is leading the league in rushing, the defense is getting better every week and the franchise has never had a better group of wide receivers.

    It's also easy to come up with reasons why this year will be more of the same. The special teams are abysmal, the offensive line is being held together with duct taped dreams and interceptions and fumbles are accumulating like snow during a blizzard in the Rockies.  

    And there's stuff that works both ways. The Giants, as they did in 2009, feasted on mediocre teams in the first seven weeks, but this year's NFL has more mediocrity than a Top 40 radio station so they don't really need to apologize for that.

    Ultimately, we're just going to have to wait for things to play out, but everyone finding at signs of 2007 should be conscious of the other historical precedents at work as well.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.