Tom Coughlin to stay as Giants coach in 2007
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:11 p.m.
CALDWELL, N.J. - Tom Coughlin will return to coach the New York Giants, according to a team official.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was to make a formal announcement during a noon conference call.
The team decided Wednesday that two straight playoff appearances outweighed a sub-par 2006 season and a dysfunctional locker room.
It was not immediately known if Coughlin was given a contract extension or he will work under the final year of a deal he signed in January 2004. He was to be paid $3 million under terms of that contract.
Gary O'Hagan, Coughlin's agent, declined comment when reached by The Associated Press.
The decision came three days after the Giants (8-9) capped a disappointing season with a last-second 23-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC wild-card game. It was the second straight season that ended with a first-round playoff defeat.
Coughlin, 25-25 with the Giants, probably will make changes to his coaching staff. What he does to improve the lackluster performance of quarterback Eli Manning remains to be seen. He also has to hope that Brandon Jacobs can step in and replace retiring halfback Tiki Barber, and there are concerns about the health of defensive end Michael Strahan, who was sidelined late in the season with foot problems.
The Giants started the year with expectations of contending for the Super Bowl after winning the NFC East in 2005. After a 6-2 record, that hope turned into a season of discontent, injuries and a second-half collapse that saw New York lose seven of nine games.
Fans were so upset by the team's performance in a 30-7 home loss to the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 24 that they shouted "Fire Coughlin" before walking out early in the fourth quarter.
A year earlier, the no-nonsense coach could do little wrong in leading the Giants to an 11-5 record and the division title.
Coughlin started running into problems with a 23-0 loss to Carolina in the opening round of the playoffs a year ago. Barber said after the game the Giants were outcoached. The halfback and coach settled their differences quickly.
The complaint, however, resurfaced early this season when Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey also said the team was outcoached after a one-sided loss in Seattle.
While it created headlines, the stir was short-lived when New York went on a five-game winning streak to reach the halfway point in first place. A second division title was on the horizon.
Then injuries to receiver Amani Toomer, seven-time Pro Bowler Strahan and offensive tackle Luke Petitgout contributed to the free fall that saw New York lose four of its final seven games despite having the lead or a tie in the fourth quarter.
The slide also seemed to indicate Coughlin's disciplinarian style was wearing thin with the players.
Coughlin made one move down the stretch, relieving offensive coordinator John Hufnagel after the Saints game and giving quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride the play-calling duties.
Barber carried New York to a playoff berth days later with a team-record 234-yard rushing performance in a win over Washington. It gave New York a .500 record, good enough for the postseason in the weak NFC.
Before joining the Giants, Coughlin was Jacksonville's head coach from 1995-2002 and went 72-64.
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