The Giants, on three straight occasions, have hired a coach and fired him within two seasons. So the Giants are either making horrendously bad decisions when hiring coaches, or they’re not giving the decisions they’ve made enough time to bear fruit.
It could be the latter, at least in part. The evidence in support of that possibility goes back more than 30 years.
After Bill Parcells won Super Bowl XXV and retired (until he didn’t), the job fell to Ray Handley. After an 8-8 season and a 6-10 season, that was that. One sub-.500 season, and Handley was gone.
Enter Dan Reeves, who immediately took the team back to the playoffs, and nearly to the No. 1 seed, with an 11-5 record in 1993. He had another winning season in 1994 at 9-7. Then came a pair of losing seasons, and out went Reeves.
Enter Jim Fassel. 10-5-1, 8-8, 7-9. He was on the hot seat in 2000, his fourth season. They went 12-4 and made it to the Super Bowl. Then came 7-9, 10-6, and 4-12. That 4-12 year ended it for Fassel.
Next, Tom Coughlin. He started 6-10 before bumping to 11-5. After an 8-8 season in 2006, Coughlin was on the hot seat in 2007. He won the Super Bowl. Next, 12-4, 8-8, 10-6. In 2011, he was back on the hot seat. And he won the Super Bowl again.
Then came 9-7, 7-9, and a pair of 6-10 seasons — and there went Coughlin.
Ben McAdoo went 11-5 in his first year. That wasn’t enough to save him after going 3-13 in his second. Then came Pat Shurmer, 5-11 and 4-12 and see you later. Then came Joe Judge. He went 6-10 and 4-13 and he was safe until he wasn’t and now he’s gone.
The problem could be that the scrutiny of the team is so intense and withering in New York that the organization feels as if it has no choice but to make coaching changes in order to placate a hair-trigger fan base. One bad season isn’t forgiven and forgotten. It becomes the ammunition for a full-throated effort to agitate for change.
And it has worked. Ownership caves far too quickly, in lieu of standing firm and explaining loudly and clearly that they intend to give the current coach a full and fair chance to thrive. Maybe Judge, with time, would have improved. Maybe Shurmur would have. Maybe McAdoo would have. (Stop laughing.)
In fairness to those who clamored for change, none of those hires were inspired. That’s currently the challenge for the Giants. They need to bring in a G.M. and a head coach who will spark enough awe among the fan base to buy more than a couple of years.
It won’t be easy. The Giants are currently caught in quicksand. The harder they try to get out, the deeper they sink. It’s a blessing and a curse to be in America’s No. 1 media market. Currently for the Giants (and also for the Jets), it’s far more curse than blessing.
The blessing would be finding a strong G.M. and a strong head coach who perform well and, more importantly, can inspire patience when the going gets tough. Which it inevitably will. Fans and media in New York should be more willing to tolerate a periodic down year without calling for everyone to get fired. The challenge for the Giants becomes hiring people who have the communication skills to earn the benefit of the doubt that their predecessors have been unable to secure.