Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/30/13

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - 2009: Jerry Reese of the New York Giants poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by NFL Photos)
As Jerry Reese surveyed the damage from the Giants’ 0-6 start — a disaster he never saw coming — he stubbornly tried to look at the bright side. And there was always a bright side, even before two straight wins gave his team a soft landing on the way into the bye. What he saw, as the losses piled up, was a team that wouldn’t fracture, a team that refused to quit and a team that kept believing as the bandwagon emptied. The players hung together long enough to sniff the fringe of the race in their awful division when they easily could have surrendered. And the credit for that, he said, goes to his oft-embattled coach. “Well, this is not Tom’s first rodeo. He's been around for a while,” Reese said Tuesday. “The passion that he brings to the table, all of our players can see that. That’s never wavered with him. For him to keep this team together, I think that shows how much respect the players have for him and what he’s done for the organization.” It also shows that Tom Coughlin is clearly not on the hot seat, and probably won’t be no matter what happens the rest of the year. That’s the strongest vote of confidence yet that indicates Coughlin is going to survive a season that, barring a second-half miracle, could be one of the worst of his head coaching career. Because of all the Giants’ problems — and Reese, in his first press conference since August, was asked about them all — the GM made it clear that Coughlin isn’t one of them. Back in August, Reese told the Daily News: “Tom is here as long as he wants to be, as far as I’m concerned,” and nothing he’s seen this season so far has made him waver on that belief. “Yeah, Coach Coughlin, he’s a heck of a football coach,” Reese said. “He didn’t forget how to coach either, at this point, regardless of what our record looks like. He’s still an outstanding football coach.” Still, Coughlin’s 10th season as head coach of the Giants has hardly been his finest. The 0-6 start was the franchise’s worst in 37 seasons, and despite their recent surge, the Giants are still in last place in the NFL’s worst division. But the glass-half-full side shows they’re also two games out of first place heading into the second half of the season, chasing a Cowboys team that always seems ready to choke any lead away. It took a master motivator to convince these players at 0-6 that their season wasn’t over, but that’s what Coughlin is, and his players bought into whatever he was selling. So yes, it may take a miracle for them to really make a run during the final eight games of the season, but Reese has seen Coughlin create miracles before. “This is a big spot for him and I would never bet against him,” Reese said. “He’s done a really nice job. When you’re 0-6, your team can just say, ‘You know what? I’m throwing in the towel.’ But our players have continued to play hard, continued to battle even though we haven’t played as well as we’d like to play. They’re still out there battling. They come to work and work hard. I have total respect for that.” That hasn’t been easy, either. Nothing was easy about the Giants’ 0-6 start. That includes Reese’s regular Monday morning meetings with Coughlin that he admitted were sometimes “contentious.” They covered a “broad spectrum” of topics and emotions, including sometimes just “crying on each other’s shoulders” too. Reese said: “We were very honest. We don’t sugarcoat anything. We talk out loud.” And there were times when Reese had no idea what to say to his struggling coach. At one point, all Reese could think of was “Coach, the sun came up,” and Coughlin said, “Really? It did?” The morning after the Giants fell to 0-6, all Reese had was “Coach, we’ve got a 10-game season left. So let’s start now.” Then they did, even while outsiders wondered if Coughlin, at 67, had suddenly become too old and whether the Giants might nudge him into retirement. Reese essentially laughed off that notion. He said “age has nothing to do with Coach Coughlin,” who, he reiterated, is “a tremendous football coach.”
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