As the future of the Giants begins to take shape, it's becoming more and more likely that Tom Coughlin will be a part of the process.
But it's not a done deal yet.
"I think there is a good chance he will be back, but 99.9 percent is not close [to being accurate]," a person familiar with the Giants' situation told Newsday on Monday in reference to a report that indicated Coughlin's return is a virtual lock. "That's like 1-10 odds in a horse race."
Another source who knows Coughlin and also is familiar with the Giants' situation said Monday night that it is likely the coach will be back next year.
Although back-to-back wins have increased the likelihood of Coughlin's return, there still is room for uncertainty. The situation won't be resolved until the season is over.
The Giants have two games remaining that feel like the first preseason games of 2015. Strong showings against the Rams and Eagles would make it highly likely that the 68-year-old Coughlin will be back. But if the Giants (5-9) regress significantly against teams with much better defenses than their most recent victims, the Titans and Redskins, or have another collapse like the one Nov. 30 in Jacksonville, the team's thinking could change.
Coughlin said on a conference call Monday that he has not had any conversations with ownership regarding his future. "My concern is with our team getting ready to play the St. Louis Rams," he said. "I'm sure that will be dealt with at the right time."
That is believed to be the end of the regular season, but it might be sooner.
The last time Coughlin's seat was this hot was at the end of the 2010 season. With public speculation rampant about the coach's future, John Mara met with Coughlin as he prepared to face Washington in the regular-season finale. Mara told Coughlin he had faith in him, and the Giants won the Super Bowl the following season.
Regardless of when the decision is made, Giants players have rallied around their coach and never have shown any signs of infighting.
"He's our guy," safety Antrel Rolle said recently. "We understand his message. His main thing is to stay together, go out there and fight."
If Coughlin were to stay, there are indications he would strongly consider replacing embattled defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, whose unit has underperformed most of the season, particularly during an 0-6 stretch against playoff contenders.
The Giants have been satisfied with first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who has helped Eli Manning bounce back from a turnover-filled 2013 season. McAdoo's game plans have revolved around star rookie Odell Beckham Jr., who has 972 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions in only 10 games.
With rookies Beckham, Devon Kennard and Andre Williams contributing at high levels, with the presumptive return of injured players such as Victor Cruz and Prince Amukamara, and with a full year of McAdoo's offense in their grasp, there is reason to think the Giants' future is much brighter than the present. As the season comes to an end, even Coughlin recognizes that.
"You always want to be on a positive note," he said of the end of any season. "You want everything to be the arrow going up. We've talked a lot about improvement and ascending, and it is the time of the year to do those things. The number of young people who are getting a chance to play, that all leads to thoughts about the future."
The thinking is that Coughlin likely will be a part of it, too.