Coughlin to learn this week if Giants want him back
PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Coughlin's future with the New York Giants was uncertain Sunday after he coached the defending NFC East champions into the playoffs with a .500 record and couldn't get them out of the opening round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
"I'll have something to say later in the week," Giants co-owner John Mara said when asked about Coughlin's future shortly after a heartbreaking 23-20 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles on a last-second field goal by David Akers.
Coughlin is scheduled to make $3 million next season, the final year of a four-year deal that he signed early in January 2004.
While the 60-year-old disciplinarian has taken the team to consecutive playoff berth for the first time since 1989-90, the trips to the postseason have not been successful.
Carolina embarrassed New York 23-0 at Giants Stadium last season, and the loss to the Eagles capped a frustrating season (8-9) that began with Super Bowl hopes.
The season also featured a lot of undisciplined penalties and missed assignments uncharacteristic of a team with a no-nonsense coach.
"I am not commenting on that," Coughlin said when asked about his future.
Coughlin's future might be left to the team's new general manager. Ernie Accorsi is retiring after this season, but it's more likely Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch will made a decision before then.
This final game was similar to the Giants' season. There was a good start, a big lull in the middle, inconsistent play down the stretch and a failure to make big plays with the game on the line.
There also has been turmoil, which actually first appeared after the playoff loss to Carolina last year when now retiring halfback Tiki Barber said the Giants were outcoached.
Coughlin and Barber mended the fences after the season, but the "outcoached" problem reared up after a loss to Seattle in the third week of the season. This time it was Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey complaining.
The insurrection ended when the Giants went on a five-game winning streak that gave them a 6-2 mark at the halfway point. They lost seven of their last nine.
Fans also expressed their frustration with Coughlin late in the season after the New Orleans Saints embarrassed the Giants 30-7 in the final home game.
"Fire Coughlin!" was clearly audible throughout the stadium before it emptied out early in the fourth quarter.
Barber came to Coughlin's defense Sunday, saying the coach made a big move late in the season by replacing offensive coordinator John Hufnagel and giving the play-calling to quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride.
"I am sure he is going to have many hard decisions in front of him, just as well as is this organization going to have some hard decisions," Barber said. "I trust them to do the right thing because they always have."
For the most part, Giants players deferred when asked about Coughlin's future, saying it was up to ownership.
Safety Gibril Wilson stood behind his coach.
"Coach Coughlin is a great coach," Wilson said. "He gets us prepared. He knows exactly what it takes. I hope he is back. Hopefully, management feels the same way I feel."
Shockey believes that the turmoil of this season has had a positive effect.
"Next year this team will be close and a force to be reckoned with," Shockey said.
Whether that's with Coughlin as coach remains to be seen.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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