Giants president and co-owner John Mara stood in the middle of the locker room at FedEx Field Sunday and issued the one-word answer to the only question that really mattered in the wake of a 10-6 season that ended without a playoff berth.
The question was whether Tom Coughlin will be back next season as Giants coach. The answer was "yes."
In Mara's mind, there had never really been much doubt, and he told the coach as much in a brief meeting during the week. While the speculation swirled that Mara might make a move to replace Coughlin, possibly with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, the owner showed his support for the embattled coach.
"I went in to see him to express the support of ownership," Mara said. "I said, 'Don't listen to all the nonsense that you're reading about in the paper. You're going to be back next season. We still believe in you and we want you as our coach.' "
Mara didn't feel the need to make any public pronouncement until after yesterday's game; the owner doesn't believe in responding to speculation until the appropriate time. It was only after the Giants' 17-14 win that Mara announced in no uncertain terms that Coughlin will be back.
And to answer your next question, it's "no." As in, no, the decision would have been the same regardless of yesterday's outcome. Even if the Giants had lost to the Redskins, Mara wasn't about to go back on his word to Coughlin.
"I don't feel like every time there's a headline or speculation about somebody's job status that it's my job to step in and make public statements about it," Mara said. "We wait until the end of the season and then we comment on it."
Coughlin appreciated the support, but he wasn't surprised at the speculation about his future. "Nothing surprises me here [in New York]," he said. "I don't really know all that goes on in your [media] world because I just don't pay any attention to it. But I do know that every time we lose a game, you'd better get your 'For Sale' sign out."
No need now.
After all, Mara believes there's no place for knee-jerk reactions to circumstances, even the ones in which the Giants went from what appeared to be a sure spot in the postseason to a stunning collapse against the Eagles changing everything.
Sure, Mara was as angry as anyone after his team blew a 31-10 lead over the Eagles by allowing 28 points in the final 7:28 and giving up the winning touchdown on a 65-yard punt return as time expired. And he was distraught about the Giants' 45-17 loss in Green Bay last week in a win-and-you're-in scenario.
But the owner also believes in seeing the big picture when it comes to making sweeping decisions about the future, and Mara's big picture still has Coughlin in it.
That's the correct call in this case, even with the meltdowns against Philly and Green Bay.
Coughlin still has the trust of his players, many of whom were outspoken in their support.
"In this society, everybody wants to fire the coach all the time," Mara said. "The Yankees get knocked off in the playoffs, everybody wants to fire the manager. We don't do that here. He's going to be our coach. I believe in the guy. I believe in stability. You can't build anything if you're constantly making changes and firing people. That's just not our culture. It's just not what we believe in, and we know this guy is a good coach and we want him to lead us into next season."
A lot of owners would do well to heed that advice, especially those who believe that change for change's sake is the way to go. There is no better example than the team the Giants beat Sunday.
The Redskins have been through six coaches since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999. The team has two playoff victories in that span.
Coughlin has that Super Bowl title, and he deserves the chance to try to earn another.