In the 91-year history of the New York Football Giants, four men have brought a NFL championship(s)/Super Bowl(s) to the “Big Apple.” Earl Potteiger (1927), Hall of Famer, Steve Owen, the winningest by number and win percentage in team history (1934 & 1938), Hall of Famer Bill Parcells and the man that was on his staff as the wide receivers coach in 1990 and who brought the last two Vince Lombardi Trophies the Giants won five and nine years ago. He also is the second winningest coach in terms of number of victories and win percentage. Unfortunately after not making the playoffs the last four seasons, including having four consecutive losing seasons, both the soon to be Hall of Fame head coach and the organization decided to part ways.
Head coach Tom Coughlin after 12 seasons with the Giants, where he won 102 games, going 102-90 parted ways on Monday after another disappointing season where they finished 6-10 for the second straight season and missing out on the playoffs for a fourth year in succession.
Coughlin went 11-8 in the postseason, which includes two Super Bowl victories in 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) and 2011 (Super Bowl XLVI) defeating the New England Patriots and future Hall of Famers in quarterback Tom Brady and his former colleague with the Giants back in the late 1980s in head coach Bill Belichick.
“I think it has been evident these last 12 years here how much pride I take in representing this franchise,” Coughlin, who also led the Giants to three NFC East titles said in a statement yesterday.
“I am grateful and proud that we were able to deliver two more Lombardi trophies to the display case in our lobby during that time.”
There are a lot of occasions when a head coach gets fired on the Monday after the conclusion of a regular season, which is called “Black Monday” in the NFL that it is a sad occasion and that the organization as a whole moves on. This is different for a number of reasons.
For starters, the Giants are have always been one of the flagship and most well run franchises in the National Football League and the head coach their leader on the sidelines in Coughlin has been the greatest representative of that and more, which the Giants’ brass expressed in a statement on Monday.
“In addition to delivering two Super Bowl titles, Tom represented us with class and dignity, and restored the pride to our entire organization,” President and CEO of the Giants John Mara said.
This was a very hard decision when you look at the optics of it for Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch.
For starters, this season came down to the Giants inability to close games in the final moments and last Sunday’s 35-30 loss versus the division rival Philadelphia Eagles (7-9) was a great example of that.
The Giants played very well on offense rushing for 208 yards, compiling 502 yards total; going 7 for 15 on third down and committing just one turnover. Unfortunately, the could not stop the Eagles who compiled 435 total yards; were 10 for 13 on third down; converted all three of their chances in the red zone for touchdowns and were burned by former Giant defensive back Walter Thurmond III scored on an 83-yard interception return in the third quarter for the Eagles.
It is those kinds of moments, particularly like they had in the first two weeks at the Dallas Cowboys (4-12), a 27-26 loss in Game 1 of the season on Sept. 13th, 2015; versus the Atlanta Falcons (8-8), a 24-20 loss in Week 2; versus the Patriots (12-4), a 27-26 loss in Week 10; versus the hometown rival New York Jets (10-6) 23-20 overtime setback in Week 13 and versus the Carolina Panthers (15-1), a 38-35 loss in Week 15 why the Giants season ended like it did and left the players to wonder what could have been and to having to say farewell to a coach they love playing for and learned a lot from.
“He definitely has not failed. I feel that we as players, we failed him,” quarterback, Eli Manning, whose started his career at the same time as Coughlin became the head coach said on Monday to the media.
“We had a good run, could have been better obviously, but I appreciate everything he has done for me.”
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield, who missed his second stint with the Giants because of injury said in his first go around with the Giants, he did not understand what it meant to be a pro playing for Coughlin, but this season he finally got what the 69-year-old coach was trying to get across to him about what it takes to be great in this sport.
“If you can look at him and he can have that type of passion and that type of dedication to the game, you feel guilty if you’re not bringing that type of energy and you’re half his age,” Cofield said on Monday.
Two players who really had to take the lessons and coaching of Coughlin to heart this season are defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who missed most of this season because of a hand injury sustained in a fireworks accident prior to training camp and star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. who had moments to forget against the Panthers and cornerback Josh Norman three weeks ago that got him suspended for the Week 16 49-17 loss at the NFC North Division champion Minnesota Vikings.
“He’s a great coach. He’s determined. Motivator. Father figure,” Pierre-Paul said on Monday.
“I love Coach Coughlin and he’s always going to be my coach,” Beckham, Jr. said on Monday.
One good thing, if anything that came out of this is that Coughlin, who if he does not coach again will one day by enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame got a chance to have his family at the game on Sunday, which included 11 grandchildren. The fans got a chance to show how much he meant to him.
One fan in the stands at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ had a sign that said, “Thank you Tom for making my childhood awesome. TC=MVC.”
There are a lot of assistant coaches, coordinators and position coaches in the NFL that never get a chance to be a head coach. Tom Coughlin got a chance to be head coach of the at the college level at Syracuse and Boston University, a position coach with the Eagles, Green Bay Packers and eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, nearly taking them to the Super Bowl back in 1996 and then becoming the head coach of the aforementioned Giants for 12 years and leading them to two Super Bowl wins.
After three straight losing seasons and now playoff appearances since winning their last Super Bowl in 2011, something had to give and that is what many Giants fans at the Candlewyck Diner in New Jersey expressed to WABC’s Anthony Johnson on Monday.
“I think he was a great coach, but sometimes you need change. Sometimes you need to change to boost morale,” Giants fan Anthony Cirillo said to Johnson on Monday.
Another Giants fan, Tony DeVincenzo felt it was time for a change because the fans of the team deserve a winner.
“The fans don’t want to go for this,” DeVincenzo said.
Emanuel Logothetis said that the Giants need a new head coach that will “spark some winning ways in the future.”
Whoever the next coach is for “Big Blue,” they will have a lot of things in their favor. A two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in Manning, who threw for career-highs of 4,436 yards and 35 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. A hungry fan base that wants another Super Bowl and an organization that believes in excellence.
One thing though that the Giants must do beside bring in a new leader for the sidelines, the defense must get fixed if they have any hope of getting back to the playoffs, let alone win another Lombardi trophy. That fall on General Manager Jerry Reese, who in his time as the GM has missed the mark in drafting and signing players.
With that being said, the next head coach will have big shoes to fill. That next man will be replacing a man that other than Owen, who went 153-100-17 (.602 win percentage) in 23 seasons with the Giants from 1931-1953, to win over 100 games as Coughlin won 102 and had the second best winning percentage in Giants history with a .531. Parcells went 77-49-1 in eight seasons (.610); former Giants head coach went 58-53-1 (.522) in seven seasons and Giants coaching lifer Allie Sherman went 57-51-4 (.527) in eight seasons.
Information, quotations and statistics are courtesy of 1/4/16 5 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News” with Diana Williams, Sade Baderinwa and Lee Goldberg, report from sports anchor Rob Powers; 1/4/16 6 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News” wit Bill Ritter, Liz Cho, Rob Powers and Lee Goldberg, report from Laura Behnke and Anthony Johnson; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_Giants_head_coaches; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Coughlin; www.epsn.go.com/nfl/teams/schedule/statistics/_/name/nyg/new-york-giants; www.candlewyckdiner.com; 1/4/16 Newsday article "Sad way to leave if that's farewell" by Tom Rock.