Tom Coughlin, who returned the Giants to NFL prominence by winning two Super Bowls, resigned Monday after missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
The Giants announced the decision one day after the Giants (6-10) capped their third straight losing season with a 35-30 defeat against Philadelphia, their third straight and sixth in seven games.
“I met with (owners) John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach,” Coughlin said in a statement. “I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and ... the Giants organization.”
The move may signal the end of a 20-year NFL head coaching career for the 69-year-old Coughlin, one of 13 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls.
The league’s oldest active coach and third-longest tenured among the 32 who finished the season, Coughlin came into 2015 knowing he had to get the Giants back to the postseason to keep his job. It didn’t happen.
“Obviously, the past three years have not been what any of us expect, and as head coach, I accept the responsibility for those seasons,” he said.
In a what-might-have-been season in the mediocre NFC East, the Giants’ failures came down to, as Coughlin often said, “finishing.” New York lost five games in the final 74 seconds of regulation, including four in the final 7 seconds.
In a loss to the local rival Jets, the Giants yielded a late tying score and then lost when Josh Brown missed his first field goal of the season in overtime on a kick that would have extended the game.
Actually, this might have been one of Coughlin’s best years as a coach. He didn’t have a lot of talent on the roster, and his defense spent the first two months with defensive star Jason Pierre-Paul sidelined by a 4 July fireworks mishap that mangled his right hand.
Coughlin posted a 110-93 record in 12 seasons with the Giants, winning three division titles in addition to his two league crowns. He was 72-64 in eight seasons with the then-expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, winning two division titles and taking them to two conference championship games in their first five seasons.
Coughlin came to the Giants in 2004 after Jim Fassel was fired. The no-nonsense coach vowed to restore Giants pride and it didn’t take long. They won the division the following season and shocked the football world by knocking off the then-undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl in February 2008.
Impressively, Coughlin also changed in those first few years. He established a players’ leadership committee and morphed into a more accessible leader who helped his teams bond.
The Giants made the playoffs in four of the first five seasons under Coughlin, and one other time beyond that in 2011, perhaps his best coaching season. He got the team to jell late in the schedule and it won twice on the road in the postseason before earning a second NFL championship, again upsetting the Patriots with a late touchdown.
Coughlin’s lessons have been passed on: Dom Capers, Kevin Gilbride, Dick Jauron, Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, Tony Sparano and Steve Spagnuolo, his current defensive coordinator with the Giants, all moved into NFL head coaching positions.