New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is one of the very best — that's not often something heard around New York because of some rollercoaster years, but a reality nonetheless. And in a recent list compiled by Sporting News, Coughlin has finally been recognized as one of the NFL's elite coaches, landing at No. 3 overall spot.
Coughlin, who turns 68 in August, won’t be around forever, and one only hopes he’ll be more appreciated when he’s gone from the NFL. In turning the Giants (and the Jaguars before that) into winners, he mastered one of the great challenges any coach has: tweaking his style to mesh with players, while getting players to adopt and adapt to his. If nothing else, who else, outside of his own family, really thought Eli Manning had two Super Bowl wins in him? Thank Coughlin largely for that.
The only two coaches ranked higher than Coughlin were Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (No. 2) and, of course, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (No. 1). However, not everyone at the Sporting News agreed with their own list, as Ross Tucker went out on a limb, saying that Coughlin's track record is far more impressive than Belichick's.
Coughlin started an expansion franchise from scratch with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996 and took them to the postseason four times in his first five years, including two berths in AFC Championship games. That's amazing and unprecedented for a fledgling franchise.
Belichick, on the other hand, only made the playoffs one time during his five-year stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in the 90s. That obviously pales in comparison to what Coughlin accomplished in Jacksonville.
As it relates to the Giants/Patriots years, well… Things may not be as skewed in Coughlin's favor, but the Giants have been successful enough — including defeats of Belichick's Patriots in both Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI — that Coughlin still gets the nod in Tucker's opinion (and ours).
Now let's look more recently. Over the last nine years since Eli Manning's first full season as the starting quarterback in 2005, Coughlin has won two Super Bowl championships. Belichick has none. Maybe even more importantly, Coughlin has beaten Belichick head to head in both of those Super Bowls. That's a tremendous feather in his cap, especially when you consider the 2007 Patriots were clearly the more talented team in that game.
Have the Giants been as consistent as the Patriots in the non-championship years? Absolutely not, but then again, Manning isn't as consistent as Brady. Not even close.
So Coughlin did far better than Belichick with a different team and different group of men in their respective first opportunities as head coaches and has won two more Super Bowls over the last seven years, beating Belichick head to head both times when everything was at stake with a lesser quarterback.
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