December 24, 2014

While Odell Beckham Jr. is returning to the field for the final time this season, it could be the last time Tom Coughlin coaches the New York Giants.

Coughlin won't be the first NFC East coach to depart after the Philadelphia Eagles dismissed Chip Kelly on Tuesday.

These arch-rivals can't be blamed if they wished they were elsewhere Sunday when they finish up miserable seasons at MetLife Stadium.

The only reason to watch this game may be to see Beckham, who is tied for third in the league with 13 TD receptions and fourth with 1,396 receiving yards. He returns from a one-game suspension for drawing three personal foul penalties, including one for a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina cornerback Josh Norman in New York's 38-35 loss last Sunday.

"What happened was I wasn't controlling myself and ended up hurting my team, big penalties, and it was a poor display of sportsmanship and not something you would want to put on film," Beckham said. "All you can do in life is move forward, you can't get the moment back, you can't get the opportunities back, you can't go back in time, and you just learn from it."

Kelly won't have to develop a game plan to slow down Beckham since Philadelphia (6-9) decided to part ways with the coach, who guided the club to back-to-back 10-6 seasons before this year's disastrous campaign in his third.

It's clear that the Eagles' poor play and losing record weren't the only reasons why Kelly is gone. The coach didn't have close relationships with many of his players, even though the club was in contention for the division title until last Saturday's 38-24 home defeat to Washington.

Three days later, Kelly's tenure was over. Philadelphia CEO Jeffrey Lurie made clear that his approach was a major problem.

''You've got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to achieve peak performance,'' Lurie said. ''I would call it a style of leadership that values information and all of the resources that are provided and at the same time values emotional intelligence. I think in today's world, a combination of all those factors creates the best chance to succeed.''

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who previously coached Cleveland, will serve Sunday as interim coach.

The Eagles may not be the only team in transition since Coughlin's 12-year tenure with the Giants could be over after this contest. New York (6-9) will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season with its third straight losing campaign.

Coughlin told the Giants not to worry about his future.

"Basically I said, 'Don't worry about me or my situation. Let's prepare ourselves to play an outstanding football game and try to win a game against the Philadelphia Eagle team,'" he said.

The coach has guided the Giants to three division titles and, more importantly, two Super Bowl victories to give the franchise four.

Unfortunately, his tenure in New York looks similar to how his eight-year stint with Jacksonville ended. The Jaguars went 7-9, 6-10 and 6-10 in his final three seasons, and the Giants will have those same records with a loss Sunday.

Coughlin said he has not talked to management about his job, though he shared an interesting reaction upon hearing that Kelly had lost his.

"Quite frankly, I'm not surprised by anything in this business, but that one was close," Coughlin said.

New York has dropped five of six after getting crushed 49-17 at Minnesota last Sunday one day after it was eliminated by the Redskins' win over the Eagles.

The Giants will try to avenge a 27-7 loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 19. New York, sixth in the league with 26.0 points per game, was held to its lowest total as well as a season-low 247 total yards.

The Eagles' defensive dominance overshadowed Sam Bradford's three interceptions and 61.3 passer rating.

It seems unlikely that Philadelphia will put forth such a defensive effort this week. The Eagles have surrendered at least 400 yards in six straight games, becoming only the second defense in NFL history since 1950 to have a streak that long.

They are third-highest in total yards per game allowed at 394.9, and won't even have Sunday's worst defense. The Giants rank last at 419.3 after never having a defense concede more than an average of 400.

The figure of 419.3 ranks fourth-worst in league history, with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo responsible for the NFL record-high of 440.1 set by New Orleans in 2012 when he was the coordinator there.

Beckham needs one TD catch and 141 receiving yards to set the single-season franchise records in those departments.

Jordan Matthews has been the player who flourished for Philadelphia in Kelly's system that mostly fizzled. The receiver is 57 yards shy of 1,000 with four of his six TDs in the last five games. Matthews has 263 yards in his last two games.

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