Giants coach Coughlin more focused on wins than job future
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Coughlin isn't spending any time worrying about his coaching future with the New York Giants.
Though many frustrated supporters are calling for changes with the team faltering and facing a fourth straight season out of the playoffs, Coughlin is looking firmly ahead to the next game.
Coughlin set himself up to be second-guessed on Sunday with a decision to go for a game-clinching touchdown instead of a chip-shot field goal with the Giants ahead of the Jets by 10 points. The plan backfired, the Jets rallied to tie the game in the final minute of regulation and won in overtime, sending the Giants (5-7) to their third straight loss.
It marked the fifth time the Giants have lost after coughing up a fourth-quarter lead in the final two minutes. Those five losses have been by a total of 12 points. There have been questionable decisions and players not making a play here or there that would have been the difference.
Wins have been there for the taking, and the Giants have failed to take them.
It's all come back to the coach and left many wondering whether the 69-year-old Coughlin will be back next season.
''I don't pay any attention,'' Coughlin said Monday when asked about his future. ''I try to stay focused for the benefit of my team, my coaches and everybody else. You can all disagree. We are trying to win games the best way we can. To be honest with you, nobody knows my team better than I know my team. When you sit in judgment of what goes on, it's all been thought out, whether you like it or not and whether it's right or wrong.''
Coughlin's trademark this season has been to be aggressive. There was a third-down pass against Dallas in the season opener when a run would have taken about 40 seconds off the clock. Dallas won a pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten with :07 to play.
Excruciating late losses to the Falcons, Saints and Patriots could be blamed on failures by the defense and special teams, and by the offense in the red zone.
''We'll win when we deserve to win,'' Coughlin said.
With four games left, Coughlin's focus is to turn things around. It starts with him, too. He intends to keep coaching, working, fighting, planning and making decisions. Be aggressive.
''Don't sit back because the world thinks it's not getting done,'' he said. ''We know better.''
The man who has led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins does not want to put his defense in a position where it needs to stop a final drive to preserve a lead. That was the reason he went on fourth-and-2 in the loss to the Jets. He wanted a 17-point lead, when observers felt he should have settled for a 13-point lead.
''We've got four games left and we can win all four of them, but it's all up to the players, man,'' defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. ''The players have to give it all in and come in and practice, even if you're hurt, just come in and do your job.''
Quarterback Eli Manning reiterated the players have to step up and make plays in crunch time.
''Coach put us in a position, he trusts us to go make a play, and we've got to do it,'' Manning said. ''We've got to play better at some critical moments in the game. We do some good things, we get close, we do a lot of good things, and it's just kind of that final step, those last few yards, and the difference between winning games and losing games. We're just not making that crucial play to get us the win.''
It's the reason Coughlin is in trouble heading to Miami for a Monday night game next week.
NOTES: Rookie LT Ereck Flowers was on crutches Monday with a sprained left ankle. ... Manning hurt his right ankle in the third quarter against the Jets. He said X-rays were negative and he intends to practice this week. ... A key play for the Jets on their tying touchdown drive was a 15-yard run by Ryan Fitzpatrick on a fourth-and-6. Coughlin said the Giants checked out of a line stunt on the play that would have put a defender right where the Jets quarterback ran.
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