UPDATE(1/14/15, 1:20 PM): Reports indicate that Coughlin has taken his name out of consideration for the job. The two sides were reportedly going to meet again today, and now Coughlin has stated he doesn’t want the job. Adam Scheffer stated that the Eagles are moving slower than the market pace, and will now pursue Doug Pederson for their coaching position. This coaching search, in the eyes of the fans and media, has turned into a disaster. It is yet to be seen how the new coach fairs, or even who he might be.
As we were all looking at the team to land Ben McAdoo as the new head coach of the Eagles, it appears that a new leader has emerged in the coaching search. Since the announcement that there will be no more interviews, all of the potential candidates have slowly been taken. And, the longer that the team goes without a coach, the more likely it appears that the team will turn to a wise sage to turn around the team’s fortunes. Enter Tom Coughlin.
The man certainly knows his way around a football field. And, if you look at his overall track record of coaching stops, it seems that he is destined to return to places where he once coached. For example, he was the wide receivers coach on the NY Giants staff from 1988-1990. The head coach for that team was Bill Parcells. The defensive coordinator for that team was Bill Belichick. Oh, I forgot to mention: The Giants won Super Bowl 25 with that staff.
At the conclusion of the 1990-1991 season, Parcells wanted then-owner to allow him to name Coughlin to be the “coach-in-waiting”, so as to prevent him from accepting the head coaching position at Boston College. Then-Giants owner Wellington Mara did not grant Parcells’ request, since he had already named a successor to Parcells, should he ever leave. Mara wanted the numbers-smart offensive coordinator Ray Handley to run the team. So, with nothing available for Coughlin, he went on to Chestnut Hill, again, returning to one of his coaching stops. Coughlin had been at BC coaching quarterbacks from 1981-1983. While there, you may have heard of his star QB: a guy, small in stature, but large on statues, like the Heisman and the Davey O’Brien; a man by the name of Doug Flutie.
So, Coughlin now has the top job on a staff, and he’s back at college. While there, he compiles a record of 21-13, going 1-1 in bowl games. After his third season there, expansion finally comes to the NFL. Wayne Weaver, then-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, tabs Coughlin to lead his team into the league. And, like all expansion teams tend to be, Season One was a disaster, finishing 4-12. But a funny thing happened between Season One and Season Two. Somehow, the jaguars found out they could be a good team. In only their second season, they finished 9-7 and lost to New England in the AFC Championship Game. Following 3 straight seasons of double digit wins, including another trip to the AFC title game, the Jags, like all teams in the league, started to decline. Injuries robbed them of their franchise left tackle, Tony Boselli. After posting losing seasons for 3 seasons in a row, Weaver dismissed Coughlin. At the press conference where Weaver announced he was selling the team to Shad Khan, Weaver said his biggest regret was that he fired Coughlin.
In 2004, Coughlin returned to another coaching stop, this time, taking over in New York for Jim Fassel. The Giants were coming off a 4-12 season, and new owner Steve Tisch decided a change was in order. John Mara, the son of former owner Wellington Mara, remained as a part-owner, and welcomed Coughlin back to Big Blue. Coughlin was there for the draft day deal that sent Philip Rivers to SD in favor of acquiring Eli Manning. The QB for the Giants at the time, Kerry Collins, pouted, as we all found out, was his go-to move. So, out goes Collins, and, to groom a young manning, in comes veteran Kurt Warner, who won a Super Bowl with St. Louis. Mid-way through the season, Coughlin decided Warner was a bit shaky, so he turned to Manning. At 5-4, many around the league felt this was a sign that Coughlin was surrendering the season, as the team was still in playoff contention. The team lost six straight, before winning the season finale. Along the way through his journey as Big Blue’s head coach, Coughlin and manning were able to claim the Lombardi trophy twice; both times, ironically enough, against his former staff colleague, Belichick and the New England Patriots. His 12 seasons in NY are the exception, rather than the rule, in an age where owners are so very quick to fire everyone.
As I write this, and reflect on Coughlin’s style, I’m thinking that this might not be a bad move for this team. Rather than hire someone with no professional head coaching experience, owner Jeffrey Lurie has decided to let things unfold in front of him, and make a smart, informed decision. And, who better to instill discipline to this team than Coughlin? You hear that, Jason Peters? Remember that remark in the Washington game, when you took yourself out, and stated “I’m not getting hurt for this”. Yeah……I bet you’re somewhere, hoping that Lurie doesn’t make this hire. He brings in three Super Bowl rings, which brings him instant credibility in professional circles. He would also bring a sense of stability in the division, as he has game-planned against the NFC East for many years. If, as he says, he can still do this job for 2-3 more seasons, then step aside, then, why not? Instill discipline, hold players more accountable, and groom the next coach for when Coughlin decides it’s time to retire. On the surface, it sounds like a winning proposition, all the way around.
Certainly, this is all speculation. Nothing has been made official. But, if a stud QB, say a Paxton Lynch from Memphis or a Jared Goff from Cal happens to fall to the Eagles at #13……can you imagine the possibilities of getting Coughlin with an energetic young mind, as he has done with Flutie and Manning? I can. And, it makes me start counting…….only 176 days until late July, and 2016 Training Camp.