Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Coughlin is among the best tenured head coaches in the NFL.
He’s likely the most under-rated as well.
His two Super Bowl wins while running the Giants aside, there’s much more to remember considering his run as an NFL head coach.
Coughlin was the first head coach of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Just a year later, Coughlin had his young Jags outfit in the AFC Championship Game.
Take nothing away from Coughlin, but head coach Dom Capers did the exact same thing with the expansion Carolina Panthers, who also reached their conference (NFC) championship game following their second season of 1996.
Yes, expansion teams in the NFL are overstocked in today’s day and age, unlike how 1970s expansion franchises like the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were.
Still, it’s an illustration of exactly how intent this particular coach really is.
Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Giants former head coach Jim Fassel. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Coughlin led the Jaguars to another AFC title game in 1999, but again failed to reach the Super Bowl – that is, until he was hired to re-direct a fledgling Giants franchise that really lost its way following the destruction that was Super Bowl XXXV under former head coach Jim Fassel.
Coughlin holds a slight edge against the Cowboys in head-to-head record (12-11), but much of that edge has been evaporated over the last two seasons in which he’s been unable to top an improving Dallas roster.
But if there’s one thing to keep in mind about Coughlin, he’s the type of coach that’s forged a reputation of delivering big when the coaching seat reaches the hottest temperatures.
After three seasons on the job in New York, things weren’t looking special for the G-Men. Coughlin had won the NFC East in his second season (2005) with the team, but failed to advance beyond the Wild Card round. Ditto the year after, when N.Y. was a mere Wild Card entrant into the post season at 8-8 and still didn’t win in the postseason.
In 2007, the Giants started the season 0-2 following losses to the Cowboys in Irving and then to the Green Bay Packers. There was immediately talk of Coughlin being fired. When a six-game winning streak that followed was snapped by Dallas, New York was kicking off a 4-4 second half of that season which helped the team sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card – and advance all the way to the franchise’s third Vince Lombardi Trophy against a cheating New England Patriots team that hadn’t lost a game all year.
In 2011, a stretch of five losses in six games from mid-November through mid-December once again had Giants fans calling for Coughlin’s head. They would beat Dallas in the regular season finale with an unimpressive record of 9-7 – and advance all the way to the Super Bowl to defeat the Patriots again.
New England obviously forgot their video cameras and air pumps.
Lesson: Never, ever count Coughlin out of a football game – or season.
Next: What About The Unexpected?