EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Coughlin is going to approach what might be his final week as New York Giants coach just as he has went into every other game week since taking over the team in 2004 and leading it to two Super Bowls.
This week is about winning, knocking off the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular-season finale and ending on a high note.
Coughlin insists this week is not about either him or his future as coach. He is upset his players have been put in a position where they are being asked about letting down their 69-year-old leader.
"I feel badly that they feel that way," Coughlin said Monday. "It's a shame that they have to be put in a position where they have to respond about something to do with me. It's not about me. I'm here for them.
"If you want to break it all down, blame it all on me. I'm the head coach, I'm responsible, I lose the games for our players. Put it that way, leave it that way. We try like heck not to put these young men in a position where they feel badly about the circumstances that the head coach finds himself in," Coughlin said in a rather short day-after news conference with the media.
Coughlin's future with the Giants (6-9) was further put in doubt Sunday night when they were crushed 49-17 by the Vikings in Minnesota for their fifth loss in six games. New York has now missed the playoffs four straight seasons, with three straight losing records.
While many speculated the Giants quit Sunday night, Coughlin felt his players played with effort.
Coughlin said his focus is going to be on beating the Eagles, who easily defeated the Giants earlier this season in one of the few games that they were never in contention.
"I have tried very hard, and you know this for a fact, the situation is not about me," Coughlin said. "I am hoping the players are not going to be centered around that. We are going to conduct ourselves as we always have. We are going to work as hard as we possibly can and put our players in the best position we can, and we'll let whatever happens, happen."
While the Giants didn't have the best talent in the league, they easily could have won the weak NFC East. Six of their losses came in the final 75 seconds of games. Four losses were in the final :07 of regulation, including three on the final play. One loss was in overtime when Josh Brown missed his first field goal of the season after the Jets tied the game late in regulation.
It leaves co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch with decisions, not only with Coughlin, but also general manager Jerry Reese.
Both men combined to lead the Giants to Super Bowl wins over the Patriots in February 2008 and '12.
"I thought we would have an opportunity this year, and the way the season was ending up at the halfway point, we had a great opportunity, and even the last couple of weeks, haven't done enough to make the playoffs," Eli Manning said Monday. "We just couldn't win some close games and we had a lot of them. We had great opportunities to win games and be right in the mix and we didn't take advantage of it."
Manning said Coughlin has not spoken to the team about his future as coach. He said Coughlin has gotten the team ready every week, doing an outstanding job of picking them up after each tough loss.
"Obviously, I have great respect for him," the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. "I wanted to do my job and do my job well, and get into the playoffs and have a big season so he could continue to be the head coach. I have such respect for him and he's the only coach I've had in the NFL, and in that sense, (I) feel disappointed that I wasn't able to play at a better level for him."