Wellington Mara used to judge the success of a season based on whether the team was playing a meaningful game the last week of the season. Apparently his son and successor share that belief because Tom Coughlin will be back next year as Giants coach. Coughlin signed a one-year extension today, which could keep him as coach through 2008, but in reality it's just a way to keep him from being a lame duck next year. But he'll certainly be returning as a punching bag for the press.

While Coughlin may be back, this franchise is clearly at a crossroads. Tiki Barber is retiring leaving a huge hole in the offense and Eli Manning’s development appears to be stalled. Coughlin’s reputation as a disciplinarian has failed to materialize on the field as the Giants commit dumb penalties all the time. Coughlin came into town belittling injuries as a “state of mind” and a “cancer”, but his team has had huge injury problems.

If Coughlin's sticking around for more than a year, he will have to find a way to get Manning back on track and improve his pass defense. There will definitely be changes in the coaching staff and the new General Manager will have to have a successful draft in April.

Giant ownership has released a statement about retaining Coughlin and it includes support from Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce, so maybe reports of all the players hating Coughlin are erroneous (or some players know where their paychecks are coming from). Fans, are you happy to see him back?

Photo of Tom Coughlin speaking to the media before last week by AP/Frank Franklin II