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Philadelphia Eagles coaching candidate profile: former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin

If you can't beat them join them.

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Tom Coughlin


Tom Coughlin is well known to Eagles fans, having coached the New York Giants from 2004 until his resignation last week. He interviewed with the Eagles on Monday, and may also interview with the San Francisco 49ers.


1969 Syracuse (graduate assistant)
1970-1973 Rochester Institute of Technology (head coach)
1974-1975 Syracuse (quarterbacks)
1976-1980 Syracuse (offensive coordinator)
1981-1983 Boston College (offensive coordinator)
1984-1985 Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers)
1986-1987 Green Bay Packers (wide receivers)
1988-1990 New York Giants (wide receivers)
1991-1993 Boston College (head coach)
1995-2002 Jacksonville Jaguars (head coach)
2004-2015 New York Giants (head coach)

Why he could be the guy

The league-wide perception of the Eagles is not particularly good at the moment. After showing patience with his previous coaches, Jeffrey Lurie's firing of Chip Kelly before the season ended and re-installment of Howie Roseman to a position of power has given the perception that the Eagles front office is a bit of a wayward mess. Similar to the Sixers hiring Jerry Colangelo, the hiring of Tom Coughlin would bring instant national credibility from decades of success and respect. In three major head coaching stops, Coughlin has turned his teams around. In his second year at Boston College he had the Eagles first winning season in six years. In Jacksonville he guided the team to the AFC Championship Game in only their second year of existence, and returned there four years later. And then of course in New York he won two Super Bowls. Most coaches in the NFL don't get a second let alone third chance to be an NFL head coach, and Coughlin's done as well as anyone has as a "retread" head coach. And he absolutely has the "emotional intelligence" that Lurie is looking for, as demonstrated by the outpouring of support by his former players at his resignation press conference.

Why he might not work

Tom Coughlin will be 70 when the 2016 season kicks off, which is almost unheard of. Marv Levy had back to back playoff appearances at the age of 70 and 71, including a playoff win, then at age 73 went 6-10 and retired. George Halas also coached until he was 73 and had two winning seasons. That's it for 70 year old coaches. But both those coaches were coaching recently great teams. Levy was two years removed from four straight Super Bowl appearances, and Halas had won the title two years prior. Coughlin is coming off of three straight losing seasons, which is a bigger reason to not hire him than age. Though Jerry Reese is the Giants General Manager, Coughlin had a significant amount of say and the Giants roster in 2015 was one of the worst in the league. And one of the poorest coached teams too, the Giants blew four second half 10+ point leads this year, thanks in large part to consistently bad clock management. Coughlin's complete lack of adaptation to advances in player health caused former Giant and current Eagle Walter Thurmond to note that "he doesn't believe in the modern medicine to progress the players to that next level." The Giants have been one of the least healthiest teams in recent years.

Final thoughts

It's difficult to see why the Eagles want to interview Coughlin. A coach of his stature is not taking another head coaching job without significant say in many areas, and while the Eagles might be willing to cede that to Coughlin, there is little reason why they should. Over the past three years Coughlin's Giants have been poorly built and poorly coached, and there's little evidence that the septuagenarian-to-be has what it takes to successfully coach in 2016. In the past few years he has kept bringing back players and coaches from the Super Bowl runs who have done little to nothing since originally leaving, such as Steve Spagnuolo, who oversaw a historically bad defense in New Orleans, and gotten very poor results.

There is a notion that Coughlin would take the job on a short-term basis, bringing Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo (or possibly some other coordinator short on experience) with him as a head coach in waiting. Jeffrey Lurie has said he does not want to be risk averse, but this plan would be extreme. It presumes that Coughlin himself will be successful, and that the head coach in waiting will also be deserving of a promotion, to say nothing of violating the Rooney Rule. Coughlin may wind up taking a front office position somewhere, but for now he is interviewing to be a head coach. There isn't much reason why the Eagles should consider him.

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