I've challenged Jeremy Fuchs, site editor for GiantsGab, a leading Giants blog, to a series of debates in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Jeremy is a longtime New York sports fan who is looking forward to the Giants raising the Lombardi trophy one more time against the Pats.
Today's topic: How would each team fare with the other's coach?
Jeremy Fuchs says: While I'm happy with Tom Coughlin as the coach of Big Blue, I don't mind engaging in a thought experiment: What if Bill Belichick was the coach of the Giants?
We can start with the premise that the Giants would use a 3-4 defense; something the Giants would be ill-suited for. The Giants don't have one decent middle linebacker, let alone two.
Much of the discipline will be the same. Both Coughlin and Belichick are no-nonsense, and, as we've seen, willing to boot players who don't adhere to the system.
We also have to think of the media. Coughlin isn't exactly Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, but he's at least cordial with the media. He's not like Belichick, who looks legitimately pained to be up there at the podium. If he could, I'm sure he would prefer sitting in his lab, tinkering and tweaking, than facing the media. And his holier than thou schtick wouldn't exactly fly in the Big Apple.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, Coughlin's teams have a tendency to fall apart as the season progresses. The trend goes something like this: a 6-2 start where they look like worldbeaters, followed by a 2-6 finish and limping into the playoffs, if they're lucky. Belichick's teams don't do that. Even with Tom Brady hurt, they didn't do it. The Pats have been a model of consistency in Belichick's tenure. While Coughlin can boast at least one Super Bowl victory, prior to this postseason, he didn't have a playoff win since Super Bowl 42.
Belichick's Giants would also take more chances on so-called guys with character issues. He's taken chances on Jonathan Sullivan, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. Despite them not working out, this risk taking is something the Giants generally don't do, Plaxico Burress notwithstanding. Giants fans would appreciate taking in someone like Ochocinco, despite the queasiness that he gives fans. He's talented, and that's what fans want.
The Giants don't horde draft picks like the Pats do; that would change. The Giants generally don't trade up, only occasionally. The Pats move up, down and back around again. While this provides excitement, and at least some annoyance from draft day fanatics, this is something the Giants, hopefully, would not adopt. Their method works just fine.
Above all, we would expect a different air about a Belichick coached Giants team. There?s a different swagger that surrounds Pats teams, a swagger developed perhaps by the fact that the players know that they are playing for one of the best coaches in history. There is complete buy in, while with Coughlin, there has been rumblings of discontent.
Despite Belichick being the mad genius that he is, the multiple rings, and the name that his tenure would bring, I'll take Coughlin. Coughlin fits this Giants team. He isn?t flashy. He?s never gotten the recognition he deserves. And he wins. We'll take that any day.
Obnoxious Boston Fan says: Tom Coughlin might not even around at this point had the New England Patriots gotten off to a 7-7 start like the Giants had done this season. That's not so much a shot at Coughlin as a statement of the bond between Belichick and the Kraft family. We'd put "In Bill We Trust" on the backs of each dollar and coin circulated in Patriot Nation if the Secret Service would not put us in prison for doing so. Tim Thomas might be doing that already.
Belichick and Tom Brady go together like fish and chips, ham and cheese or Pat Sajack, Vanna White and margaritas. And like Lennon and McCartney - can each succeed on their own - but never quite worked as well as they did when they played together
The true testament to Belichick's system was the Patriots' 11-5 finish after Brady's injury in 2008. Given Coughlin's background and expertise on offense, Brady's game might even be more diverse and explosive than it is now. Thanks to a big helping hand from former QB coach Chris Palmer, Coughlin's turned Eli Manning into a winner - no small feat.
Coughlin's fate is as much intertwined with Manning's as it is dependent on him. Offensively, Brady and the Pats would be in solid hands with Coughlin at the helm. Coughlin and Belichick matched wits back in the day when each was a coach with the Giants under Bill Parcells and got Super Bowl rings thanks to the Billy Cundiff-like foot of Scott Norwood. It was Belichick's secondary vs. Coughlin's wide receivers in practice back them. No word on who got the upper hand. Coughlin is not shy about expressing himself during games but doesn't operate in the ultra-coach speak of Belichick or the bombastic braggadocio of Parcells.
The diplomacy that the Patriots and Belichick practiced with Chad Ochocinco would not have gone on with Coughlin. Ocho's line about watching the "video game" Patriots offense after Week 1 might have been enough to send Coughlin over the edge. With Coach Coughlin, Ocho would either be a featured deep receiver or have gotten the boot in September.
Coughlin the coach would have struggled with the defensive players provided by Belichick the GM. Albert Haynesworth might not have survived Coughlin's training camp. The Hoodie made a Super Bowl defense out of the likes of Sterling Moore, Rob Ninkovich and James Ihedigbo. Couhglin could not find a defensive coordinator who could have done a better job with Belichick's personnel than Belichick himself.
Belichick has solidified his "Darth Hoodie" reputation with a rampage through the galaxy during the regular season and a couple of "Star Wars" sequel-type performances against Denver and Baltimore. Coughlin is much more like Han Solo. He can get the job done and might even be able to save the galaxy - but he'll take you for a wild ride and may crash along the way.
I'll take the "Dark Lord of the Sith" any day.
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