Coughlin’s Final Ride?
One of the greats, yet so under-appreciated
As we enter the final week of the 2014 season the New York Giants won’t be going to the postseason, their will be one person though who we should keep an eye on. He won’t play a single snap, catch a pass nor make a tackle, but he will have a huge impact on the game. The man I’m talking about is Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
In my mind the future Hall of Famer Coughlin is one of the most under appreciated coaches in this league. He always seems to get the most out of his players, which may sound cliche, however if you look at the two Super Bowls he has won, it was nothing short of amazing. In 2007 he took a 9-7 Wild Card team who had no business even be relevant in the postseason and only went on to beat the Buccaneers in Tampa, the Cowboys in Dallas, Brett Favre in Lambeau, and then took down Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Tell me all you want about how lucky the Giants got, but in all honesty, that team had no right to be there. Coughlin did a masterful job with the undermanned squad he had. He went on to do practically the same thing in 2011. Once again defeating Brady and Belichick to win his second championship and cemented himself a place in Canton.
This kind of success shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen Coughlin’s track record. His first head coaching gig came at Boston College where he completely turned around an embarrassing football program to a respectable one, he went 21-13 overall as the head coach there and had probably the most signature victory of the program when they beat the top ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the first time in the school’s history in 1993. His first run as an NFL head coach was with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin went on to be the most successful head coach in the history of the franchise. After going 4-12 the first season, he managed five straight winning seasons including back to back division titles in 1998-99 and winning Coach of the Year award in 1996, which was the first winning season in Jaguars franchise history. He took Jacksonville to two AFC Championship games in 1996 and 1999, but fell short in both games. Eventually Coughlin’s tenure as coach ended in 2002 when he was fired, a decision that now former owner Wayne Weaver said was “his biggest mistake as owner”.
In 2004 Coughlin was hired as the head coach of the New York Giants. His kind of drill Sargent mentality was exactly the kind of thing the team needed. The first thing he did was get the quarterback he wanted and the feeling was mutual, the Giants selected Philip Rivers out of NC State, but then went on to trade him to San Diego for the guy Coughlin wanted, Eli Manning. Though Coughlin didn’t start Eli at first, he eventually went to the rookie. Both he and Manning were heavily criticized by teammates and the media but Coughlin stuck to his guns and it all paid off; twice in fact, and every Giants fan should be really grateful that he did.
Tom Coughlin has never been a flashy coach, nor has he ever succomb to peer pressure when it comes to the media. He’s always done things his way whether people liked it or not. Players have always respected the hell out of him, which is why he’s succeeded at every place he’s coached.
Sunday could possibly be the last time we see Coach Coughlin on the sideline, and if so, the game is losing one of the best football minds around. No question in my mind the next stop for Tom will be enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.