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A Word on Stability

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Monday's opponent, the New York Giants have suffered back to back end of season collapses to miss the Playoffs. Ownership has stuck by head coach, Tom Coughlin. It is fair to say Coughlin would not have kept his job under different owners than the Mara's and the Tisch's. Was this the right move?

My answer would be, "Yes!" Over the short term in the NFL, things vary a lot. Sometimes people have an uncharacteristic year or two. Remember how David Garrard threw 18 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 2007 and how the Jaguars were a team on the rise?

On the other end, Coughlin has a great track record. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants. He has won two division titles in New York and a strong run of success in Jacksonville. He is an excellent coach. Two years does not change that. The Giants smartly saw that two bad runs to end seasons did not change that. This is what good franchises do.

Bill Cowher had 7-9 and 6-10 seasons in 1998 and 1999. A lot of people thought he was on the hot seat in Pittsburgh. The Steelers knew they had a good coach who just hit a rough patch and saw they were unlikely to find a better coach. Cowher won at least ten games in four of his seven subsequent seasons in Pittsburgh as well as a Super Bowl.

Continuity for the sake of continuity does not work, though. The Redskins stuck by Norv Turner for almost seven years despite a single Playoff win. That was not smart. Keeping the status quo does not improve the team if the status quo is mediocrity.

That is why I rejected this argument back in 2008 with Eric Mangini. Mangini certainly did some good things in New York, but I felt it was clear he was not ready to lead the Jets to the promised land.

On the other hand, Rex Ryan has displayed he is an elite coach in just two short years. A 6-10 season in 2011 will undoubtedly have a lot of Jets fans calling for his head and claiming his antics are the reason the team is losing just as many of those same people have praised his antics as a reason for the team's 2009 and 2010 success. You can see the difference Rex has made, though, in the schematic improvements and in the way individual players have improved. He is an excellent coach, even if he has a bad year. The Jets should stand by him.

This does not mean Coughlin or Ryan deserves a lifetime pass. If the Giants collapse again, there will be real questions about how effective Coughlin really is. There is a good chance he will lose his job this time. However, three years will provide conclusive evidence. In many instances, a team fires a coach and ends up downgrading in knee jerk style.

When you know you have a good coach, it is best to stick with him until you are absolutely sure he is not the right guy.