Replacing Coughlin Won’t Be Easy – Just Ask The Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite the Giants shortcomings over the last few seasons, a proven NFL head coach isn’t walking through the door at MetLife Stadium to replace the 2x Super Bowl Champion Tom Coughlin.
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Whoever replaces Tom Coughlin has big shoes to fill.
(Image courtesy of AJC)

Who Replaces Coughlin?

As the Giants begin their search to replace head coach Tom Coughlin, keep in mind that they won’t be swapping a Hall of Famer with another one.

The Giants are reportedly interested in their two coordinators, on the defensive side Steve Spagnuolo and offensive side Ben McAadoo. Spagnuolo was the man in charge of arguably the most tumultuous defense in New York history, allowing a league worst 420 yards per game. Offensively, the Giants have improved in recent years, and McAadoo certainly deserves credit. They were top ten in yards and points per game. If I had to choose an early frontrunner for the job, it would probably be McAdoo. The Giants offense has shown steady improvement over the last two seasons. Furthermore, the two most important players on the Giants, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr., are certainly comfortable in his system.

But if New York does look outside the organization, it will be towards names that are also unknown on the NFL head coaching level.

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin as well as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase interviewed last week. Both of them have a combined zero years of head coaching experience at any level.

The only experienced name that has been linked to Big Blue is Doug Marrone. The current Jaguars offensive line coach, Marrone, interviewed on Saturday. He is a native New Yorker who previously was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills – for just two seasons. There is no doubt Marrone would make for an interesting hire. On the surface, perhaps he would jive with the Giants organization – he is known as a hard-nosed, blue-collar coach. Digging deeper, however, highlights his lack of head coaching experience (just two NFL seasons) and mediocrity in Buffalo (15-17 overall) that won’t provide much excitement.

No matter who the Giants end up hiring, the chances they land a proven name are very, very slim. That may be OK in the long run, and only time will tell. But, the point here is this: Tom Coughlin is going to be very difficult to replace, and we have precedent to prove it.

The Coughlin Era in Jacksonville

In 1995, the Jacksonville Jaguars were officially launched, and they selected Tom Coughlin as the man to lead their newly founded franchise. At the time, it was considered a dubious decision. Coughlin was coming from Boston College, and held no prior experience as a coordinator in the NFL. He was previously a position coach with the Giants in the 1980’s, but his limited NFL experience would’ve made him a skeptical head coaching hire for any franchise at the time – but in particular, an expansion team like the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In hindsight, Jacksonville made the right choice. His overall record was 68-60 – hardly impressive. But, putting aside his 4-12 first season with the new NFL team in 1995, his resume is actually just short of spectacular. From 1997 to 2000, the Coughlin-led Jags posted a 45-19 regular season record. In the playoffs, Jacksonville had mixed success. They won 4 playoff games in four seasons, and lost in the AFC Championship game in 1996 and 1999. Remember, this was an expansion team that was just created in 1995 – and he brought them to the AFC Championship game in 1996.

Similar to the way it has ended with New York, it all came crashing down. Coughlin had three straight losing seasons and was fired in 2002 – a decision that has perhaps haunted the Jaguars ever since.

The post-Coughlin Era in Jacksonville

If there were any gripes about the Coughlin era in Jacksonville, it would be the simple fact that he couldn’t lead the team over the hump. Two AFC Championship games in an eight year stint is great, but what does it mean if the franchise is left Super Bowl-less in the end?

I think that’s a fair argument, and clearly the Jaguars felt they could turn themselves into a great franchise with the foundation that Coughlin helped build.

Following Coughlin were the Jack Del Rio years from 2003 to 2011 which featured solid regular season success – but just one playoff win. Del Rio’s final tally with the Jags was 69-71.

But more recently, the Jaguars have been possibly the worst franchise in the NFL. They’ve now had three coaches in four seasons, who have finished a combined 11-42. And, of course, no playoff wins.

As Jacksonville searches for a quarterback, or any talent, really, they also wish they had a head coach who provided the stability that Tom Coughlin brings to an organization. Because right now, they are lost.

Coughlin’s departure from Jacksonville left the football world a cautionary tale. We shall see what his exodus from New York brings for the future of Big Blue.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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