Brian Daboll won't be winning back-to-back NFL Coach of the Year awards.
Daboll had an outstanding first season as head coach of the New York Giants, but Year 2 isn't going well. The Giants are 2-6. Some things are out of his control, like being down to his third-string quarterback Sunday, but he made a key decision that backfired and led to a loss to the New York Jets.
The Giants melted down in the final 1:26 of regulation. That's when they took over at the Jets' 26-yard line. It's nearly impossible to lose when you lead by three points, have first-and-10 at the opponents' 26-yard line and the opponent has just two timeouts remaining. The Giants managed to lose in that situation.
The Giants had a fourth-and-1 and called timeout with 28 seconds left. Instead of going for it, the Giants opted for a field goal. In bad weather, Graham Gano missed from 35 yards out. You have to hope your kicker won't miss a 35-yarder, but it still was a questionable decision.
Daboll said he wanted to take a six-point lead and make the Jets score a touchdown. The Jets' offense had done very little to that point. But after the field goal miss the Jets hit two 29-yard passes, spiked the ball with one second left and kicked the tying field goal. The Jets won in overtime.
"Kick a field goal there and they have 24 seconds with no timeouts and they need a touchdown," Daboll told reporters afterward. "Making the field goal, then they'd have 24 seconds with no timeouts and they'd have to drive the length and our defense was playing really well the whole game. That's why I made the decision."
Daboll was asked about the two sides of the decision ("There's always a flip side," he said. "I understand what it is."), and specifically that the Giants could have ended the game with a first down on fourth-and-1.
"Hindsight. Understand the question, legit question, but it's a decision that we made," Daboll said.
The Giants had plenty of offensive issues. Third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito had -1 passing yards on seven attempts. Before he left with an injury, Tyrod Taylor had just 8 passing yards. The Giants didn't have much faith in DeVito, though Daboll explained it as the team coming in wanting to run the ball in bad conditions. Though the lack of any passing threat with DeVito had to play some role in his decision to try a field goal that turned out horribly wrong.
A lot has gone wrong for the Giants this season. But even in a season with a lot of low points, losing to the Jets in that way will linger awhile. And there will be even more questions for last season's NFL Coach of the Year.