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Is Tom Coughlin One Of The 10 Greatest NFL Coaches Ever?

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Photo by Larry French/Getty Images.
Photo by Larry French/Getty Images.


New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is entering his 19th season as an NFL head coach. Coughlin, who will turn 68 in August, signed a one-year extension last February through the 2015 season. Coughlin’s time as a head coach in the NFL is coming to a close as any year in the near future could be his last season in the league. With Coughlin’s retirement from football inching closer, today we’ll evaluate where Coughlin ranks amongst some of the best coaches in the history of the NFL.

Coughlin's Outstanding Resume

Coughlin is a two-time Super Bowl champion with a career win-loss record of 158-130 (a career win-percentage of 54.9). Coughlin ranks 14th all-time in regular season wins and  eighth all-time in playoff wins with 12. He has the second most wins in Giants franchise history with 90 victories. Steve Owen is the franchise leader in wins as head coach with 151. In 1995, Coughlin was hired to be head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were one of two expansion teams that season along with the Carolina Panthers. After going 4-12 in their inaugural season, Coughlin turned the franchise into AFC contenders, going 45-19 in their next four seasons and playing in the AFC championship game in the 1996 and 1999 seasons. Coughlin is the Jacksonville Jaguars' all-time leader in wins with 68. The Jags haven’t had that level of success since Coughlin was fired at the end of the 2002 season.

Coughlin’s Place In Amongst The Best Coaches Ever

The two Super Bowl wins by coach Coughlin put him in a rare company. Only 13 coaches in NFL history have won two or more Super Bowls. I am comfortable with the idea that Chuck Knoll (four Super Bowl titles), Bill Belichick (three Super Bowl titles), Bill Walsh (three Super Bowls titles) and Joe Gibbs (three Super Bowl titles) rank higher than Coughlin on the all-time best coaches list. Of the coaches with only two Super Bowl titles, I’d rank Vince Lombardi higher than Coughlin due to his impact on the game, the dominance of his teams and his stellar 9-1 playoff record in the playoffs. Don Shula gets the nod over Coughlin because he is the all-time leader in wins, he coached in six Super Bowls and had outstanding longevity in the league, coaching 33 seasons. I’ll take Bill Parcells over Coughlin as he took the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1997 and built competitive teams in New York (Jets) and Dallas. Finally, I’ll rank Tom Landry higher than Coughlin due to the fact that he won five conferences titles and had a stellar winning percentage of 60.7 percent in his 29 years as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. All these coaches have two Super Bowl wins like Coughlin, but their respective resumes are more impressive.

Tom Coughlin Top Ten In The Super Bowl Era

Outside of these eight coaches, I don’t think Coughlin takes a back seat to any coach in the Super Bowl era. Many of the best coaches of all time never had to the deal with the constraints of the salary cap, which was initiated in 1994. In addition, many coaches never had to coach an expansion team, let alone field an expansion team to the brink of a Super Bowl in the second year of the franchise. Coughlin’s success in Jacksonville, two Super Bowl titles in New York and longevity in the league during the salary cap era gives him an edge over excellent coaches such as Mike Shannahan, Tom Flores and George Seifert, all of whom have two Super Bowl rings like Coughlin. Jimmy Johnson rounds out my Top 10 best coaches due to his success in both college and the NFL. Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1966, I think Coughlin ranks Top 10 among the best coaches ever. As his career comes to a close, it will be interesting to see where football fans and pundits place him in NFL history. I’ve made my case. What is yours?