Insider: Tom Coughlin a top-5 NFL coach

Our man Mike Sando polled 30 NFL "insiders" -- coaches, GMs, personnel directors, etc. -- and ranked the 32 NFL head coaches. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin came in at No. 5 on the list:

"He is every bit as solid as Belichick," said a former GM who placed Coughlin in the top tier. "He has done it over time and been very consistent. You can say he is old-school, but I think he appeals to young guys. He is very sound. Nothing falls through the cracks. These guys at the top, if I were with them, I would spend not a single minute worried about whether we were coached right or had everything covered."

You can go look at the list if you like and quibble about whether Coughlin should be ranked higher or lower. But the ranking and assessment are both high compliments and Coughlin deserves to be considered one of the very best in the league. Coughlin's presence as the Giants' coach is, in fact, the main thing holding me back from making a truly dire prediction about the Giants' 2014 season.

As bad as things may look from a personnel standpoint on offense -- and they do look bad -- I think 2013 proved that the Giants' floor is pretty high as long as Coughlin is the coach. They started 0-6 last year and still managed to finish 7-9, mainly because Coughlin managed to keep them focused and intense at a time of the year when other teams who were out of it had given up. They won games in November against teams that had to play backup quarterbacks against them, and they won games in December against teams that had quit.

Now sure, when they ran up against contenders like Seattle and San Diego last December, Coughlin's Giants were completely overmatched and got crushed. They simply weren't good enough to compete with those teams. But in weeks when their roster was good enough to compete with its opponent, they more or less won the game. And I think that's a testament to coaching.

So as you head into 2014 as a Giants fan, worried about any number of justifiably worrisome things, one of the aspects of the team that should give you hope that it can't possibly be a total disaster is the head coach, who remains one of the best in the business.