Tom Coughlin could read the writing on the wall and stepped down as head coach of the Giants on Monday. Co-owner John Mara met with the media on Tuesday to discuss his coach’s 12-year tenure and how it came to an end.
“He walked in to meet with Steve and I yesterday,” noted Mara. “He first broached it, but I would say it was not a contentious discussion. All good things come to an end at some point in time.”
In today’s NFL where coaches are often one-and-done, Coughlin endured critics clamoring for his firing back in 2007 and spurred New York to a miraculous championship run by upsetting the then-undefeated New England Patriots. Four years later, with speculation about his tenuous coaching future gaining steam, Coughlin rallied the troops to another Lombardi Trophy over Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Flash forward another four consecutive playoff-less seasons since his last Super Bowl, Coughlin couldn’t overcome a slew of losing seasons to keep his job.
Steve Tisch and Mara are known as patient and loyal co-owners, but it was apparent to both of them and to Coughlin that it was time to part ways.
“Coaches in this league that last 12 years are pretty rare," admitted Mara. "It's been a great 12 years, even though the last few years have been disappointing,” said Coughlin. “But I think it was as much mutual as anything else. But he was the one who came to us.”
While Coughlin held an emotional final press conference during which a teary eyed Eli Manning looked on with remorse for an opportunity lost; Mara didn’t rule out the possibility that he could employ the 69-year old NFL lifer in a different position within the Giants organization.
“Some sort of advisory capacity on the personnel side,” said Mara of considering Coughlin for a future front office role with the team. “Obviously we have a lot of holes to fill. I think he brings a unique perspective to that having coached a lot of these players, having coached against a lot of players in the league. I think he's always been a very good talent evaluator.”
Oddly enough, Mara allowed his head coach to walk out the door, but General Manager Jerry Reese kept his job overseeing personnel decisions. Outside of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants were devoid of talented playmakers and featured a defense that ranked dead-last in the NFL.
Mara didn’t disguise the fact that the roster was littered with less than stellar players, but despite the personnel shortcomings, Coughlin became the odd man out.
“Obviously it was lacking in some talent, especially at 6-10,” said Mara. “We have some holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. No question about that. You can't hide from the record. The record indicates we do not have enough championship-caliber players. That's on us.”
Mara and Reese will conduct a widespread coaching search that will include coaches in the college ranks and outside the organization. New York’s co-owner also noted that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will interview for the head coaching position. The past few seasons the Giants have disappeared into obscurity and Mara is aiming to spearhead the revitalization of a proud franchise with a storied tradition.
“We've had three losing years in a row,” noted Mara. “Let's be honest, we've lost some credibility as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row like that, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It's up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”