Is this season the possible sunset in the notable coaching career of Tom Coughlin? The answer is an emphatic “yes!”
After missing the postseason in 2010 despite a 10-6 record, there was a groundswell among fans and media last winter for Coughlin to be fired. However, the Giants’ ownership and management decided otherwise. They even extended Coughlin’s contract one more year at the end of last month, lifting the lame duck status under which he would have been functioning this season.
When Coughlin, who will turn 65 on Aug. 31, assumed the position of New York Giants head coach in January of 2004, his hiring was hailed as a much needed move towards restoring discipline and order to a team that allegedly had become unfocused, lax and too player-governed under his predecessor Jim Fassel.
Coughlin, a native of upstate Waterloo and a graduate of Syracuse, came to the Giants with a reputation as a stern, no-nonsense taskmaster. Much of his philosophy was adapted from Bill Parcells, for whom Coughlin served as an assistant with the Giants from 1988 to 1990. At the beginning of his tenure, many veteran players, including Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan, rejected Coughlin’s dictatorial style. And after a 6-10 first season, it seemed his stay would be short lived.
However, a subsequent meeting with team leaders Barber, Strahan and Amani Toomer, among others, led to Coughlin altering his methods. He became more approachable and open to suggestions from players. Coughlin’s relationship with the media also somewhat softened, and his humorous side that his close friends often spoke of began to manifest.
Now in his eighth season, Coughlin’s accomplishments with the Giants are impressive. He has won two NFC East titles and a Super Bowl. Overall, his regular season record with the Giants is 65-47 and he is 4-3 in the postseason. Most coaches would give their right arm for his resume. Nevertheless, in sports, its “what have you done for me lately?”
The Giants have been shut out of the playoffs two straight seasons. A third will almost certainly be the end for Coughlin. His job will difficult given the uncertainties of the offensive line, special teams and suspect red zone efficiency.
Coughlin hopes a 20-10 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday does not ominously foreshadow what is to come.