Tom Coughlin Gets Contract Extension; Is He Best Head Coach in NFL?

Update: After restructuring Osi Umenyiora’s contract, the Giants have now also given head coach Tom Coughlin a contract extension.  He has won two Super Bowls in the past five years for Big Blue.  Coughlin’s contract ties him up through 2014, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Is Tom Coughlin the best head coach in the NFL today?

Photo Credit: Michael Heiman/Getty Images

The Sporting News certainly thinks so, ranking the 65-year-old New York Giants coach at No. 1 amongst his peers in their NFL coach rankings.

Coming off his second triumph as the head coach of the Super Bowl-winning Giants, there is certainly a case to be made for Coughlin. It’s tough, though, to overlook what transpired for Coughlin and his players the prior two seasons—failing to make the playoffs in 2009 and 2010.

You cannot ignore the unacceptable collapse in 2008 that could lie only on the coach’s shoulders and his failure to keep his players focused in light of Plaxico Burress’ shooting scandal, either.

The reality is, while Coughlin is a great NFL head coach, even now after winning the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots for the second time in five seasons, he still does not rank as the very best in the game today.

He is not far down the list, however. Here are the three NFL head coaches better than Tom Coughlin.

 

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Bill Belichick

Trust me, I do not enjoy saying this, but you cannot deny the type of franchise Bill Belichick has put together in New England. He is brilliant in that he always knows how to adjust to help his team win football games.

And that’s just what Belichick and the Patriots do—they win football games. It is not always pretty and often times looks worse in the boxscore, but the Patriots continue to be the cream of the crop in the AFC.

Belichick has led his team to the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, and that lone season where the Pats failed to make the postseason they were 11-5 with a back-up quarterback who had not started a football game since high school.

As the NFL shifts to a pass-first league, much of that can be credited to Belichick, the Pats and their outstanding offensive attack during that historic 2007 season—in which, of course, they fell to Coughlin and the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Certainly, Coughlin has gotten the better of Belichick in three of their last four meetings, but in the wide spectrum of things, Belichick is simply better.

Belichick has been unable to win the Super Bowl in almost a decade now thanks in no part to Coughlin and the Giants, but there is nobody more consistent or successful than the Patriots’ legendary coach in the NFL today.

 

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Mike Tomlin

The Sporting News cited a comment former New York Jets offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Damian Woody said about Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin:

“If I could play for any current coach, it would be Mike Tomlin. He gets the most out of guys.”

That statement sums it up in a heartbeat. No matter who is on the field, Tomlin finds a way to get his team adjusted and ready to win.

As a result, the Steelers are 55-25 under Tomlin with two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2008 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Steelers have made the postseason in four of their five seasons with Tomlin at the helm. He was the 2008 Motorola NFL Head Coach of the Year and continues to be at the top of his game in the face of numerous changes on his roster due to injuries, free agency and retirement.

Despite the Steelers’ rich history, Tomlin is the franchise’s record holder for winning percentage in Pittsburgh, having won 69 percent of his games coached.

 

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Mike Shanahan

Perhaps a surprising name to see on this list, the Washington Redskins’ Mike Shanahan showed how much better a coach he is than Coughlin in both meetings during the 2011 regular season. He outcoached the Giants leader twice in embarrassing fashion and placed Big Blue on the brink with their season clutching for dear life.

Let’s note that he did all of this with very inferior talent throughout his roster.

He showed his coaching prowess once again in a big win against the Arizona Cardinals as well as impressive close losses to the Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys on two occasions.

Shanahan is an intelligent coach, well-respected for his ability to get the most of even the least capable player. It’s not an accident he won two Super Bowl trophies at the helm for the Denver Broncos.

And no, it was not all John Elway in Denver; Shanahan always found ways to win and in due time, he could do so in Washington as well with a boost in talent.

He is going to find a way to make his running backs work—he always has (see: Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns, etc.) —and should the defense continue to improve and Robert Griffin III live up to the hype, Shanahan has the supporting cast to prove just how great a coach he can be.

And that could spell trouble for Coughlin and his Giants in the future. The NFC East is a hotbed of competition already with the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles seeking divisional supremacy. Add Shanahan and the ‘Skins to the mix, and it will be tough sledding for Coughlin and the Giants to keep a stranglehold on their division crown.

At this time, Shanahan did not deserve to be pegged above Coughlin in the Sporting News’ rankings, but it shall be fun to see which way the pendulum swings as these two coaches collide in the near future.

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