EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Coughlin is not only coming back as the New York Giants coach, he’s getting a new contract, too.
A day after the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year, co-owner Steve Tisch said Monday that the team plans to sit down with the 64-year-old coach in the very near future and work out a new deal.
Coughlin had one year remaining on a $21 million contract that he signed after the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008.
“Tom is an A-rated NFL coach,” Tisch said. “He’s coached many great seasons and got us to the Super Bowl. I’d like to feel that we can be back in Indianapolis next February.”
Fellow co-owner John Mara announced after the Giants (10-6) beat the Washington Redskins Sunday that Coughlin’s job was never in jeopardy and that he would be returning as coach next season.
“He is a great, great guy and a tremendous leader,” Tisch said. “The players play for him and respect him. You can’t let a guy like that get too far away.”
Still, this season will go down as a major disappointment.
The Giants had hopes of playing for an NFL title in Dallas in February, but their postseason playoff hopes were dashed when they blew a 21-point lead against Philadelphia on Dec. 19 in the NFC East showdown and then lost to the Packers in Green Bay the following weekend to lose control of their playoff destiny.
While they salvaged a 10-win season on Sunday, their playoff hopes had vanished minutes earlier when the Packers wrapped up the final wild-card berth with a win over the Bears.
It left the team with little to talk about but their disappointment after a season highlighted by inconsistency.
When the Giants were good, they were outstanding. They had a five-game winning streak early in the season that included an impressive 10-sack win over the Bears, the NFC North winner, and another three-game winning streak that put them in position to win the NFC East.
And when they were bad, well, they looked as if they belonged in the NFC West.
No one will forget the collapse against the Eagles. The Giants not only blew a 31-10 lead with eight minutes to play, but they even managed to lose the game in regulation when DeSean Jackson scored on a 65-yard punt return after Matt Dodge failed to kick the ball out of bounds.
There were also the 42 turnovers, including a team-record-tying 25 interceptions by Eli Manning. The giveaways were a common component in one-side losses to Indianapolis, Dallas and Green Bay.
Injuries to receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks and along the offensive line, most notably to center Shaun O’Hara, also hurt and left the Giants on the outside of the playoff picture.
“I’ll watch them for sure,” Coughlin said of the playoffs. “I’m a fan. I love it and I’ll watch it for sure. I’ll usually have that pad right next to me, I’ll make some notes for myself and so on and so forth, but I won’t be a happy camper.”
Coughlin, Mara, Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese will have much to review. New York has 21 free agents including defensive linemen Mathias Kiwanuka and Barry Cofield, fumble-prone halfback Ahmad Bradshaw, who rushed for a team-high 1,235 yards, safety Deon Grant and Smith, the team’s single-season reception leader who faces a long rehabilitation after undergoing major knee surgery recently.
Kiwanuka also is a question mark after going on injured reserve with a disk problem in his neck.
Coughlin said he has not considered changes to his coaching staff but with all the fumbles, interceptions and poor play on special teams there might be some movement.
While he said he hasn’t given it much thought, Coughlin’s contract should be finished soon. He even joked when asked how long he might coach, saying he was considering going until he was 70 or 72-years-old.
“I do one year at a time,” he said with a smile.
Mara and Tisch agreed age is not a concern with Coughlin.
Reese seemed more disappointed than his owners. He spent the offseason shoring up the defense by signing Grant and fellow safety Antrel Rolle, signing offensive tackle Shawn Andrews late in training camp and drafting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Dodge.
Manning might be the poster child for this team. The former Super Bowl MVP threw for 4,002 yards and 31 touchdowns along with his 25 interceptions.
“I put a lot of my shoulders and I have to get better,” Manning said. “I’m not a 25-interception quarterback. That’s got to be fixed. That’s on me and the receivers and everybody, but most of it’s on me.”
Coughlin said there were times that Manning simply tried to do too much this season. However, he was just as quick to point out that many of the picks either came off the hands of his receivers or were the result of being down late and playing catchup.
“If you want to look at one reason why we are not in the playoffs it’s we turned the ball over,” said O’Hara, who probably will surgery to correct ankle problems that limited him to six games this season.
Despite the five-quarter lapse in the Philadelphia and Green Bay games, the defense played well under new coordinator Perry Fewell, who is bound to get a couple of head coaching interviews.
“As a team we left a lot on the table,” Bulluck said. “It’s like we set the table but we didn’t eat. We let other people come eat the food that we laid out all nicely. It’s an unsettling feeling.”
Reese said there will be some changes, but it’s hard to say how many, especially with the potential of a lockout looming if the players and owners can’t reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Defensive captain Justin Tuck doesn’t think the Giants need to change much. The goal is more consistency and finishing games.
The only question is will there be football games to finish in 2011?
“There will be football next year,” Tuck predicted. “I don’t know when it’ll be, but this is a big business. A lot of people stand to lose a lot of money if we don’t play, so we’ll play.”