New York Giants Retain Tom Coughlin: Giants’ team ownership has decided to retain the services of Head Coach Tom Coughlin for at least the 2007 NFL season. But the commitment to the 60-year old Coughlin was not a strong one. The 4-year, $12 million contract Coughlin signed in 2004 was scheduled to expire after the 2007 season. The Giants decided to give him only a one-year contract extension, keeping him in a precarious situation as a coach very much on the hot seat. Extending his contract by one year is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Team CEO/President John Mara and team Treasurer Jonathan Tisch, the franchise’s co-owners, addressed the media yesterday in a conference call. “Jon Tisch and I sat down with Tom Coughlin on Monday afternoon and had a lengthy discussion with him about the state of our team,” said Mara. “Those discussions continued on Tuesday. At the conclusion of those discussions we told Tom that we wanted him to continue to be our head coach. And we have decided to add another year onto his contract. Much of those discussions were having him tell us what his plan was going forward to make us better and to make us as successful a team as we all want to be. We were satisfied with how he plans to move forward and we remain convinced that he is the right man for the job to get us to the position that we all want to be in.”

“From our perspective, after, as John just mentioned, our meeting with Tom over the past two days and in consultation with my family members who have been privy to our input and agree with the decision, it is our strong belief that consistency, stability, loyalty and sticking by your people are extremely important and Tom has demonstrated and articulated a vision for the future,” said Tisch. “It is one that we agree with, one that we support, and one that we embrace…We were open to hearing what Tom had to say about moving this organization forward. And once again he has a vision and he understands how that vision can now move forward. And he did not have to save his job; he did not have to talk us into anything.”

“(Coughlin) knew that obviously we were not happy finishing 8-8, particularly after starting 6-2,” said Mara. “We addressed our concerns to him. He responded. We were satisfied with his response. Those discussions will probably continue during the course of the week. But at the conclusion of the discussions that we had yesterday we told him that we were satisfied with what his vision for the future is and that we very much wanted him to continue to be our head coach.”

“I’m aware that there will be a number of fans who will not be pleased with that decision,” said Mara. “But I don’t know that I agree that it will be generally an unpopular decision. I’m certainly sensitive to what the fans think. And believe me, I have received a lot of mail, particularly over the last eight or ten weeks. But at the end of the day you can’t make decisions based on what the fans’ sentiment is at that time. You have to make decisions based on what your own eyes have shown you and what your experience in this game has shown you, and what you think is in the best interest of the organization moving forward.”

“We did not insist that he make any specific changes (to the coaching staff),” said Mara. “I wanted to hear what his plan was overall and whether it included any changes and we did discuss that. I’m not going to comment on anything specific that may or may not occur. I’ll let Tom do that when he speaks to you later.”

“I’m certainly very appreciative and very grateful to Jonathan Tisch and John Mara for the opportunity to sit and visit with them, and for their support,” said Coughlin in his own media conference call. “We’ve had a couple of days of very healthy, productive meetings which allowed, as (is) normal at the end of the season, an opportunity to answer questions, express our thoughts for moving forward, for improving our football team. And really everything that we talked about was about getting the New York Giants better – being better and improving so that we could move forward…I never really worried about my job…I felt that we worked very hard as a staff and as a group this year. It certainly wasn’t what we expected it to be, but going into the meetings, I felt they were end of the year meetings that gave me a chance to be with ownership and still didn’t have any feeling that I was not going to be retained.”

When Coughlin was asked about possible changes to his coach staff, he said, “The process is on-going. We evaluate everything. I’m in the process of doing that now. I’ve expressed some things of concern as we’ve gone forward in our meetings, and they’re continuing. You’ll know as soon as those decisions are final.”

The Giants’ public relations department released a statement supposedly crafted by DE Michael Strahan: “I’m excited to hear that Coach Coughlin will be returning this season. He has led us to back to back playoff appearances for the first time in my 14-year career. Unfortunately, because of my foot injury, I wasn’t able to be much of a help down the stretch this season. I know the perception is that he is unapproachable and distant from his players, but that’s not the case. I had some of my best conversations with him this season, and he showed me how much he cared about me as a person and as a player when I went to him and pleaded with him to let me play against Dallas and then against Philadelphia, and he knew the smart thing to do was to let me heal up some more because I wasn’t ready. I look forward to a healthy return for the ’07 season and helping the Giants organization make a third straight playoff appearance with a better outcome than the past two seasons. Tom is the man to lead us to do just that.”

And the TE Jeremy Shockey supposedly said the following in another release by the Giants’ public relations department: “Coach Coughlin deserves to be the head coach of the New York Giants. I’m glad he’s coming back and I have told a lot of people over the past couple days that I hope he comes back. He and coach Pope, all they want is for me to be the best player I can be. I know they know how hard I work at it, and I know how hard they work to get the most out of me. We all need to do a better job together to get ready for another season. Everyone on this team, no matter what anyone from the outside says, understands that nothing is more important to Coach Coughlin than winning and that’s what you want from your coach.”

“Like I’ve been saying, the coach is the real deal,” LB Antonio Pierce said in the Giants’ press release. “He’s a good coach and he does a good job and we all share in what happened this season, and I never thought for one second that Coach Coughlin shouldn’t continue to be our head coach.”

On the other hand, an unidentified starting offensive player told The New York Post: “Guys are so sick of hearing him yapping all the time. You watch film, a guy gets beat and he yells ‘We can’t have that!’ Like a whiny baby.”

“He has no inspirational tactics whatsoever. Zero,” an unidentified player told The Post, on the condition of anonymity since he expects to return next season. “He doesn’t promote guys to want to battle for him, never. On Saturday nights, guys want inspiration so that you want to go to war with someone. He shows us statistics. He’s cut and dry. He has to be so controlling. You’ve got to trust guys as adults. And he never gives in.”

No Official Word Yet on the New General Manager: The Giants have not yet decided on who the new general manager for the Giants will be in 2007. On the surface, the decision to retain the head coach before a new general manager is officially onboard appears ass-backwards since the new general manager, unless he is an in-house candidate, will not have had a say on who his head coach should be.

“We have not named a new general manager,” said Giants’ President/CEO John Mara yesterday during the conference call with the media. “And (not having a new general manager) really didn’t have any effect on (the) decision (to retain Coughlin). We felt like we needed to make a decision on the head coach fairly quickly. We still have some more work to do on the general manager. Ideally you would like to have the general manager issue be settled first, but those circumstances were not in line for us, so we had to take care of this issue first. And that’s what we did…I would be surprised if it took until the end of the playoffs. I hope to have a decision much sooner than that. But we still have a little more work to do and some more discussions that we have to have before we reach the final decision.”

When asked if the new general manager would have to be comfortable with Coughlin, Mara responded, “Tom Coughlin is our coach for 2007 and hopefully for many years after that. That’s the final decision. So, yes, whoever the general manager is going to have to accept that…We would certainly talk to (Coughlin) and get his feedback…But (Coughlin) is obviously not going to make the final decision.”

Mara said on WFAN that it would take longer than this week to hire a new general manager.

Also, despite the fact that current General Manager Ernie Accorsi is retiring on Monday, he apparently is still wielding significant influence behind the scenes. “We are also fortunate that Ernie is still very much on the scene,” said team Treasurer Jonathan Tisch. “His input, as it has been for the past decade, is always very thoughtful and helpful and we like listening to Ernie and now that this decision is made we will move forward over the next couple of days and pick a new general manager for the New York Giants organization.”

It has been widely reported in the press for some time that Accorsi supports the promotion of Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese to the general manager position. Most seem to think that Reese is the favorite for the position. Interestingly, Newsday reports that another internal candidate, Vice President of Player Evaluation Chris Mara (John’s brother), is believed to be more in favor of overhauling the Giants’ scouting staff than Reese. The Star-Ledger says Reese gave his blessing to the return of Coughlin.

Mara also said on WFAN that he was surprised that Patriots’ Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli declined the Giants’ request for an interview for the Giants’ general manager position. Pioli told Mara that this was not the right time to make a move and that he was happy in New England. Mara said that Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick had approved the request for the interview of Pioli.

Tim Lewis Interviewed for Miami Dolphins Head Coaching Job: In a move that is likely designed to fulfill the NFL quota system that minority candidates be interviewed for head coaching vacancies, the Miami Dolphins have asked the Giants for permission to interview Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis for their head coaching vacancy. The Giants have granted the Dolphins permission to do so. Press reports indicate that Lewis was interviewed by the Dolphins yesterday in Newark.

Notes and Quotes: Newsday is reporting that General Manager Ernie Accorsi re-signed WR Tim Carter and CB Frank Walker last offseason over objections from Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

The New York Post is reporting that an unidentified player told the paper that QB Eli Manning suffered a preseason back injury due to a weight-lifting maneuver that a quarterback should not be performing. “Why are we always hurt? How come at midseason our record always flip-flops?” said the player. “No one on the team trusts the strength program.”

Phil Simms on the Giants: “I’ve been surprised. Tom Coughlin stands for discipline and everything you can imagine that makes a team successful. But it hasn’t gone that way for the Giants so far. He hasn’t been able to overcome the environment he walked into. Can you imagine the stuff that’s been coming out of the Giants locker room about players and coaches? Division from within; I used to hear that all the time from Bill Parcells. Your team cannot overcome it. They’ve got to get that straight.”