It’s Coughlin’s Time to Say Goodbye, Gotham

... But it doesn't have to be messy or angry. It's clear the expiration date has come for the Giants legend, and the best thing is for all sides to move on amicably, because it could get worse before it gets better

The Giants have bottomed out in 2013 at 5-9, facing potentially the worst record in Tom Coughlin's New York tenure. (Carlos M. Saavedra/Sports Illustrated)
The Giants have bottomed out in 2013 at 5-9, facing potentially the worst record in Tom Coughlin’s New York tenure. (Carlos M. Saavedra/Sports Illustrated)

It’s probably the first time I’ve ever considered him the voice of reason, no matter the topic, but I’m starting to think Lawrence Taylor got this one exactly right: All good things must come to an end, and this year that rule applies to even Tom Coughlin’s time in New York.

Don’t make the mistake of shooting the messenger because it was Taylor, the controversial and at times erratic Hall of Fame Giants linebacker, who made the case for ending Coughlin’s New York reign after 10 mostly successful years. Instead, consider the message, which I thought Taylor delivered the other day with the necessary respectful tone, and a clear-eyed sense of reality for where things stand in New York.

“Tom Coughlin has done wonders for the Giants,” Taylor told the New York Post. “Personally, I don’t know if I could play for him, but the guy is a winner, he is a fighter. But I think it is time for him to take his talents on the road. He’s done all he can do for the Giants. If he wants to coach, I think he needs to take his philosophies to another team.

“After a while, the players just stop listening. I respect the man, but it’s time. As much as I like Coughlin and the job he has done, it’s time for a shakeup.”

Taylor’s was not another fire-the-coach rant, delivered in anger and devoid of perspective or recognition of past accomplishment. Instead, it was the realization that even the best coaches, even those with two Super Bowl rings on their resume, eventually run out of answers and reach their tenure’s expiration date.

Taylor believes Coughlin is at that point with the Giants, and I find myself agreeing with his argument. Not all NFL divorces have to be ugly or messy—think Peyton Manning in Indianapolis—and Coughlin deserves considerable say in how the end game plays out. But it does look like change is needed in New York, and the only question is, will anyone who really matters recognize it and act?

The Facts

* The Giants missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, with only the surprise 2011 Super Bowl run—as a 9-7, No. 4-seeded team—breaking up that drought. Albeit in spectacular fashion.

* Since starting the 2012 season at 6-2, the Giants have gone just 8-14, the worst record in the NFC East in that span. Since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012, New York is 14-16 overall.

* While five of Coughlin’s 10 teams in New York made the postseason, the only years the Giants won any playoff games were in 2007 and 2011, the two Super Bowl seasons. That’s making the most of your two best opportunities, but it also speaks to the reality that the Giants under Coughlin have had success in fits and starts.

* New York started this season 0-6, its worst getaway since 1976, and the 5-9 Giants need to win both of their final two games in order to avoid the franchise’s worst season since 2003, Jim Fassel’s last season coaching the team.

* The Giants offense is in obvious need of some re-vamping. New York is the only NFL team to have been shut out this season, and it has happened twice, including last Sunday’s 23-0 home loss to Seattle. Quarterback Eli Manning’s play has slumped considerably, with his 25 interceptions leading the NFL this season. The key to a Giants resurgence is fixing Manning’s game, much like rookie Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was able to do this season for Philip Rivers, Manning’s fellow member of the 2004 quarterback class. And just making offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride the sacrificial lamb isn’t going far enough.

Make no mistake, the Giants have grown stale under Coughlin. As they stumble home this season, at 5-9 and just two losses shy of the worst record in his decade in New York, I can’t help but think that Coughlin has already done his best work with one of the league’s flagship franchises—twice, in fact—and the odds are decidedly against him ever reaching that pinnacle again.

While it can never be easy or enjoyable to leave on a down note, especially for a coach as driven and competitive as Coughlin, I’m convinced a year too soon is always better than a year too late when contemplating an exit. Think back to Andy Reid’s last two years in Philadelphia and what a dismal coda they were on his 14-year stint with the Eagles. According to friends in the know, even Reid in time recognized that his stay lasted a year or two longer than it should have, tarnishing some of his great work.

Coughlin will be 68 next season, and is entering the final year of his contract in 2014. It’s not the Giants’ style to make Coughlin work the final year of his deal without an extension of some sort, and I can’t see them going that route. But are they willing to add a year to his contract out of respect for his body of work, knowing he might never see 2015 in the job? Would 2014 represent a victory-lap season in that case, and do those ever turn out being a sweet, sentimental ride? 

The Giants would never try to force Coughlin into retirement and the gold watch route, and they shouldn’t. He deserves the appreciation and respect of the franchise for both his years of winning, and the way he has won. But it’s time for someone to have an honest chat with one of the legendary coaches in Giants history, about where things realistically are headed in New York. Isn’t it better to get started now on planning the Giants’ future, rather than holding on to the team’s recent and glorious past any longer? 

Those who know Coughlin say he’ll never walk away and give up on coaching. It’s all he knows, and all he lives for, and it occupies his time and energy like nothing else. But like Taylor suggested, maybe there’s another team out there that would kill to have a dose of Coughlin’s coaching, even if it’s just for the short term. I can think of two teams in the NFC East alone that could use his winning touch (isn’t that right, Washington and Dallas fans?) 

If the prompting is skillful enough, Coughlin could make it his call to leave the Giants, take the high road out of town, and step aside to make room for a fresh set of eyes and ears, which is what the franchise most likely needs now. It could be done quietly, and in the Giants’ way, but it could be a case of letting Coughlin decide his work with the team is done, while the afterglow of New York’s second Super Bowl title two years ago is still relatively fresh in memory.

Coughlin was the right man at the right time for the Giants, for most of the past decade. He brought a much-needed discipline to a veteran team, then learned how to be more flexible and help that club get over the hump and earn the game’s grandest prize. Twice. But a new approach does seem required. And his impact has been lessened by time, and the natural inclination of players to grow unfazed by a coach who grows too familiar.

Not many coaches or players get to experience it, but the best exits in the NFL are the ones where you leave on your own accord. Coughlin shouldn’t go because he has to go. He should go because the signs say his time is up, and his work in New York is done.

For the Giants, it’s time for a change. Because it’s true, all good things must come to an end.

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94 comments
JackSquat
JackSquat

The new OC won't help them make the playoffs.  Coughlin is senile and his sideline antics are a joke.  He also loses the team every year at the midpoint.  Will happen again this year even in the NFC Least.

cloudydayz7576
cloudydayz7576

Coughlin this, Coughlin that, this is hot air. Had Jerry Reese thought about the "year too late" argument when trying to construct an offensive line, this article wouldn't have been written, and the Giants would be in the playoffs. This is classic "knee jerk" stuff. Was I a fan of Gilbride? Not really, but we could have been worse off, much worse, and guess what? If they hire Mike Sullivan, the philosophy won't change anyway. But if we had a Dallas Cowboys (circa early to mid 1990's) offensive line, the whole argument changes. LIsten, every single year, there are 31 failures in the NFL. 31 out of 32 are NOT winning it all. Can't win every year. We need to rebuild that offensive line, plug a few holes here and there, and the Giants will be right back in the mix. With Coughlin at the helm. Then he can retire on his terms and we can bring in Bill Cowher for the next generation of Big Blue football. 

shoeless
shoeless

32 turnovers=9 losses, 8 turnovers=7 wins.  If you average 1.1 turnovers in a game and you can win, average 3.5 turnovers you won't have a positive outcome.  


I don't see how 2013 season is on the coaches. If you finish ranked 31st in turnover differential, the Giants are lucky to have 7 wins. Want to guess who ranked 32nd?   I will give you a clue, they have the #1 pick in the draft.  

JayWeinstein
JayWeinstein

Look LT is right TC has had his day. The Head coach  is RESPONSIBLE  for Killdrive being there in the first place. The IMO Jerry Reese has done a lousy job the last few years  Have you been watching other teams like the Seahawks  and SF  .. they simply have better athletes, hands down on both sides of the ball and have better plays called  and  .. look, when SEATLLE came to town, I predicted they'd be blown out by 23  and boom,  it wasn't by accident.. it wasn't the coaching or this or that.... It was all things combined 

the JINTS simply have NOT kept up with the league  and guess what, its going to be a long haul to turn it around  ...mark my words  they are at best in the middle of the pack  for as long as this regime is in place and even with ELI  and I hate to say that...

Mike Pratum
Mike Pratum

I'll second David Harte's comments.  Lawrence Taylor has about as much right to discuss current Giants affairs and the coach as he does discussing the boiling point and chemical properties of mercury at 40,000 feet.  

He is a total disgrace not only to the Giants organization, but to the entire NFL and all players.   He used PEDs the whole time he was playing, admitted it, and was using every sort of drug on the planet with impunity.   He would not recognize a pattern of poor performance if it hit him in the forehead.  And you'd think after this many years, he'd learn proper English and grammar.  (I guess he ascribes to the "Lebron James and D Wade" grammar school of thought.) 

Gary737
Gary737

I have seen this movie before with Coughlin on the sidelines looking totally confused. But now both Coughlin and Manning look confused in just about every game. These players are grown men who unfortunately do get to the point where they don't listen to a coach who has been there so long. I will always remember a game this season where Coughlin went over to a group of his players and they ignores him. It was really sad.

DrewS
DrewS

Tom did a great job bringing two Superbowl trophies to New York but it's his time to move on. The Giants need a change. With the mess in New York, Dallas and Washington the Eagles are poised to rule the NFC East again for a long time. I for one would like to see a more competitive division and a return to great NFC East battles of the past. 

hopkinsuniv
hopkinsuniv

It's easy to say Coughlin should leave -- poor record, Manning w/ arguably his worst year as a pro, lack of a running game, special teams issues, etc.., etc..., etc.... but Coughin's departure would not cure their ills. Their stats are abysmal -- 30th in points, 29th in yds allowed, 28th in rushing yds.... Perhaps the offensive & defensive coordinators should consider stepping down. I just don't think getting rid of Coughlin is the solution.....

NFLorBust
NFLorBust

The Giants should sign John Skelton in the off season as backup, strong arm and experienced. Outside of Manning there was nobody. 

EP1
EP1

Don Banks. Love your writing... on this topic though... you are insane!!! First to suggest that you agree with Taylor but then conveniently hide behind "the messenger"... Cmon... seriously. I am a football fan first and a Giants fan after that. All the media hoopla year in and year out, the most frustrating thing as a Giants fan is the lack of story lines (unless you remember that guy that shot himself in the leg). But there is good reason for it. The Giants as an organization do things right. Its a bad season. But he never lost the locker room. Eli may have thrown some bad interceptions but the guy has also hoisted 2 lombardi trophies and those were not accidents! 


I get the reason for contemplating the thoughts of Coughlin because he may very well choose to retire. But I for one recognize him as the Head Coach for the NY Giants and I wouldn't trade him for anyone because lets be honest. Harbaugh is coming from San Fran, Carrol isnt coming from Seattle, Belichek will retire a patriot, I cant see Sean Peyton leaving N.O. and Tomlin is one of 3 Pittsburgh coaches ever!!! So who are you going to replace TC with? Answer is nobody and I think the organization knows and I know that he has earned the right to leave on his own terms. 


For those who think somone like Cowher would be good... how many seasons did he coach and how many SB did he win? And all I have to say about coaches who did things elsewhere is Shanahan.... boom!!! there goes your arguement. 


Look, it was a bad year but overall in his tenure. Coughlin is the guy. Eli is the guy (unless Peyton or Tom want to come and play for the Giants). But that is that point. You don't replace talent unless there is talent there. And you can hem and haw at losses an interceptions. But unless you replace talent with more talent its mute.

Highwater
Highwater

I was with you until you suggested Dallas and Washington as potential landing spots. I just can't picture Coughlin wanting to work with meddeling idiots of owners like Jones or Snyder. 

Popeye
Popeye

The biggest mistake that the Jaguars ever made was to let TC go. The team is old, injured and beat u./ They need to rebuild. The Giants should let him do it. We are going to  get worse before we get better. Patience will be rewarded. Stick with TC. The team was in disarray before he came.

JohnFerguson
JohnFerguson

The Giants are the only organization that Bill Cowher would return to coach. Give him a six year deal and he will bring another Lombardi Trophy to the Big Apple. 

foggettaboutit
foggettaboutit

Don Banks, 

Really?  Two time SB winning coach, brought us back from HELL at 0-6 this season....had nothing to work with and gave it his best shot despite Killdrive's idiotic play calling.  You need to splash some water on your face.  
TC is a PERFECT fit for NY and will be for quite a while in my opinion.  It's GILBRIDE that has to go.  His 'dated' play calling is enough to make me reach for a bottle of Crown.  Ridiculous!  
This article should be hidden away and never read again....by anyone.  

FAIL!

TSJ

larrybradford
larrybradford

Here goes the worthless media again, deciding when a coach, GM or a player should go. It's none of your business when they should come or go. Fortunately you don'e make these decisions. Teams do...What a bunch of freaking jerks, and people want to know what is wrong with America. 

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

The guy has a lot of ups and downs and that doesn't play well in this day and age.  The guy is a winner and he's got a lot of so-so talent on that squad.  It's amazing how good a coach is when he has top talent to work with.  The players are professionals and they play the games; they are more responsible for the disappointing season than the coach but he may pay the price.

BillyG
BillyG

Tom Coughlin has been head coaching in the NFL for 18 seasons.He has only made the playoffs in 9 of them, and has won a playoff game in only 5 of 18 them.The 2 seasons he won the SB, he was either a 9-7 lousy-division “winner” or a 10-6 wild card.In each of his 2 SB runs he was the beneficiary of some of the most fortuitous plays and opponents' screwups of all time (including the playoffs leading to the SB).In his last 5 years he is 41-37 in the regular season AND missed the playoffs 4 of the last 5 seasons…even though he is coaching one of the highest payroll teams, with one of the highest paid (although nowhere near best) QB’s in by far the weakest division in the NFL (in 9 seasons with TC, the NYG’s have won their division just 3 times, in spite of it being probably the worst division in football over that time, and by being able to “fatten-up” with 6 games a year against weak division opponents.Besides the Giants, since 2005, the other3 teams in their division have a grand total of TWO playoff wins against a team outside of their division. 2013 will mark the 4th straight year none of the TWO wild card teams in the NFC came from the East).Two questions…1) should he be fired after this season if he refuses to "retire", and 2), is there any possibility he DESERVES to make the HOF?

BillyG
BillyG

Tom Coughlin has been head coaching in the NFL for 18 seasons.He has won a playoff game in only 5 of 18 them.The 2 seasons he won the SB, he was either a 9-7 lousy division “winner” or a 10-6 wild card.In each of his 2 SB runs he was the beneficiary of some of the most fortuitous plays and calls of all time (including the playoffs leading to the SB).In his last 5 years he is 41-36 AND missed the playoffs 4 of the last 5 seasons…even though he is coaching one of the highest payroll teams, with one of the highest paid (although nowhere near best) QB’s.Two questions…1) should he be fired after this season if he refuses to "retire", and 2), is there any possibility he DESERVES to make the HOF?

sneede
sneede

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano you can set your calendars by the recurring call for Coughlin's resignation. All I know is, when that happens get to Vegas and bet the Giants to win the SB next year!

GregoryStroud
GregoryStroud

If there was an obvious choice for a replacement out there, I might listen... but there isn't. I'll stick with Coughlin. 

nard100
nard100

The media has never live TC.  He is not the touchy-feely, wear-his-heart-on-his-sleeve type they like.  They like the fact coaches like ryan shoot off their mouths and say stupid stuff over and over again, so they spend many hours chastising him for bad judgement while hypocritcally hoping he never stops doing it.  Even he has wised up.  With TC, you don't get any of that.  In fact you don't anything to hang your hat on other than the simple truth.  No embellishment, just plain truth without the spin.  The only problem the Giants have is due to injury and playcalling.  Both are easily fixable.  Instead of doing what fans want and run after every free agent out there.  Jerry Reese has taken the wise and measured approach that will free up cap space over the next few years and set us up again for another SB run.  We needed to see what we have in veterans and young players and now we know.  To the media, prepare to eat crow...again

TonyRome
TonyRome

Suck for four years, win a Super Bowl, suck for four more years win a Super bowl. I can think of a lot of cities that would take that.

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Lawrence Taylor, "the at times erratic"…you must be joking.


This man is, in no particular order: a junkie, a felon (rapist), functionally illiterate (any interview with Lawrence is destruction derby of the English language), a thug.


Asking him for an opinion on anything other than mugging another human being is a waste of time and breath.


But he played in New York.  A Legend….


Give me Ronnie Lott (always the better player, and the true legend and champion).


Do you fools know anything about this country west of, say, Ohio?

rskins09
rskins09

Bill Walsh (49ers)  said the same thing after he retired about player's  quit listening to what their head coach says after ten years ..That you can only say the same thing so many times before they tune you out .But you can't always blame the head coach when your team turns stale ..Giants defensive line went south this year and a couple of them quit ;  couple are getting long in the tooth ..Chris Collinsworth  mentioned the age of their DL now compared to their last SB win  . Eli Manning look like he hit the wall this year ...Coughlin is a great coach  and like Andy Reid with the Eagles it's time to move on but I can't see the Mara clan will pushing  him out the door.  I see Coughlin coaching at least one more year with The Giants ..Redskins head coach  after 2014 ? ..There's no telling what Snyder  going to do ...DC has been one big soap opera  the past month or so ...Waiting to hear that  RG III  3rd cousin's husband will be the next head coach but only if he's from Texas and played for Baylor within the past twenty years .   

CharlesVekert
CharlesVekert

Coughlin would be the perfect coach for the Redskins. He is past his prime and would be expensive. Snyder will pay him $20 million a year.

jzty
jzty

The Giants really lucked out in both their Super Bowl 'wins' over the Patriots.  A fluke, lucky catch in 2007 despite the Patriots outplaying them the whole game and then of course Gronk was injured 2 years ago.  If he's healthy, the game's a different story.

douglitas
douglitas

@Mike Pratum Yeah, you're right. You probably know way more about football than the best defensive end to ever play the game. What are we thinking listening to him and the top-notch sports writer who agrees with him?

EP1
EP1

@JohnFerguson All I have to say to former coaches that had some success elsewhere is... Shanahan... Boom!!! no Cowher thank you! I Like him. i really do. But you cannot tell me that a coach that has been out of coaching for what... 5-6 years or more is going to be better than Coughlin who has won 2 SB's in that time span.

BillyG
BillyG

You THINK TC “brought us back” from the HELL of an 0-6 start??? What brought the Giants “back” had nothing to do with Coughlin, and all to do with possibly the most fortuitous lineups of opposing QB’s in NFL history.In their 5 wins (out of 6 games) to be “brought back”, they faced these QB’s:

MINN-Josh Freeman, making his first ever start for a team he had just joined.

PHIL-Mike Vick (already injured) goes out in the 2nd quarter, and rookie Matt Barkley, with a previous total of 20 career NFL passes, finishes the game.

Raiders- Terrelle Pryor, one of the first starts of his NFL career.

Packers- Aaron Rodgers…NOT!!Scott Tolzien, in just his 2nd NFL start.

Dallas- Tony Romo, the established starter.But, oh, yeah, Giants lost this one.

WASH- RGIII, but he was injured, and this was his last full game of the season, and the Giants needed a come from behind 4th quarter, with the refs screwing up the down marker, to squeak by a team that is now 3-11

San Diego – For only the 2nd time in 7 games NYG face a healthy, regular starter.And lose again to that healthy regular starter by 23 points.

Seattle – For only the 3rd time in 8 games face a healthy regular starting QB.And lose again to that healthy regular starter by 23 points (and get shut out).

The ONLY thing that helped the NYG get “brought back” from 0-6 start was being able to beat up on middle or bottom of the barrel teams who ALSO all had QB’s who had rarely ever even played for the team they were on (except the injured RGIII).Without that LUCK, the NYG would probably be AT BEST, 2-12.

Don29
Don29

@BillyG Get off your High-Horse Kid. The B.S. you spew stinks like you`re opinion of football all together.

EP1
EP1

@BillyG You like using the word "fortuitous" dont you?!?

They won two superbowls... regardless of their seed or record... they did in fact win 2 SB's. Do you know how hard it is to get to one? Ask Dan Marino!

And how do they have "one of the highest payroll teams"... I thought there was a salary cap that all teams use?!?


And how is the division that is usually considered the toughest, the NFC (with exception to this year), a weak division? 


Haters gonna hate.

foggettaboutit
foggettaboutit

@BillyG Yawn.  Two rings bud!  The runs we made in the playoffs were nothing short of amazing.  
Now PLEASE sit down.  

BY
BY

@nard100 Great comment! I can't remember the last time I read something so reasonable on the internet.

bob.mcgee.blue
bob.mcgee.blue

He was not erratic. A terrer on the field and off

KidHorn
KidHorn

@rskins09 How many players play for the same head coach for 10 years? How long has Belichick been coaching the pats?

bob.mcgee.blue
bob.mcgee.blue

No way he coaches Redskins or Cowboys. He bleeds BLUE!

BY
BY

@jzty Waaaaaah! Which team actually had the most points at the end of those games? (The only stat that counts) I'm not a Giants fan at all but your's is a silly comment.

Fifilo
Fifilo

@jztyand... if they don't get a lucky draft pick for on a fifth round scrub QB, and if the starting QB doesn't almost die from internal bleeding, and if the refs don't decided to invoke an obscure rule at the deciding moment of a playoff game.

KidHorn
KidHorn

@jzty Or maybe the Giants were the better team in February.

theboneman21
theboneman21

@jzty The Pats outplayed them the whole game ?

That team that averaged 35+ points and 400 yards per game and allowed only 1.3 sacks per game and holding a TOP edge of 32-28 suddenly gave up 5 sacks, scored 14 points and 274 yards and lost the TOP by a slight edge of under 1 minute.

That NYG team averaged 330 yards YPG, 23 PPG and 1.6 sacks allowed with TOP edge of 31-29 and in that game they produced 338 yards, 17 points and allowed 3 sacks.


So basically, by every measurable, NYG performed closer to their norm than NE. 

How you consider that being outplayed is beyond me. It's suppose it's akin to the folks who actually thought Meldrick Taylor was beating Chavez.

jojomogir
jojomogir

@jztyAlmost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  Look at the scoreboard - that's what counts.  If....sheesh

EP1
EP1

@BillyG  Its not who you play its when you play them. And Coughlin keeps the team in line. They play with so much more discipline (overall) than the team he inherited or the teams prior to his tenure. 

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