Just a few short weeks ago New York Giants fans -- as they do seemingly every season -- had coach Tom Coughlin's head on the chopping block. With the Giants having lost five of six, sitting at 7-7 and facing a third straight season without a playoff berth, many wanted to send the league's oldest coach into retirement.
Then the Giants walked into MetLife Stadium, stomped all over the brash New York Jets and everything changed. The Giants have not lost since, winning four straight games and reaching this weekend's NFC Championship Game. No team has played better in recent weeks, and the Giants have a legitimate shot at their second Super Bowl in Coughlin's eight-year tenure.
Coughlin? He has gone from the chopping block to being spoken about in reverent tones. Mike Lupica of the Daily News says he is one of the two best coaches in Giants' history. I would say he is part of a Big Three with Bill Parcells and Steve Owen. The New York Times wonders if Coughlin puts himself into consideration for the Hall of Fame if he and the Giants can win another Super Bowl. Should the Giants win their second title in four years I would agree that you can make a good argument that Coughlin would be deserving of a place in Canton.
Consider these numbers:
Coughlin has 142 career regular season victories, 19th all-time. He is 10-7 in the post-season, and only Bill Belichick (16) has more among active coaches. Andy Reid of Philadelphia also has 10. In 22 seasons, legendary coach Bill Parcells won 172 games, an average of 7.8 per season. In 16 seasons, Coughlin has averaged 8.9 victories. On the negative side, Coughlin's .555 winning percentage pales in comparison to most of the coaches in the Hall of Fame.
So, is Coughlin a Hall of Fame coach? Not now, that much is certain. Could he be a Hall of Fame coach is his team completes another late-season Super Bowl run? Maybe. He will, at least, deserve to be in the conversation.
One thing that is certain. Coughlin has, once and for all, established that he is the right coach for the New York Giants. If he wants to remain on the Giants sidelines, a legitimate question since he is the league's oldest coach, he deserves more than his annual one-year extension. He deserves a multi-year pact that takes him off the hot seat he somehow always seems to be on.
There is a funny, or maybe not so funny, similarity between Coughlin and the quarterback of his team, Eli Manning. Both are among the best in the business at what they do. Coughlin is one of the best coaches in the business, while Manning is one of the best quarterbacks. They are both elite, if you will.
Yet, no one ever seems to believe it. Coughlin's job is always on the line, at least in the eyes of the fan base and many in the media. Players who have never played for him are always saying they never could, because they just don't get what he is about. Manning is forever having to justify that he is, indeed, one of the best in the league at what he does. Many will simply never understand what he means to the Giants, or how much he does.
There are some who will never understand Coughlin. His press conference transcripts sometimes require two or three reads before you can decipher what he actually said. Players on the outside can be leery of him, and his methods take new Giants time to get used to.
Coughlin, though, is all about winning. And he knows how to do that. Whether he puts himself in consideration for the Hall of Fame or not, it's time people recognized he is more than some old lunatic ranting and raving on the Giants sidelines. He is one of the best coaches in the business.