"I met with John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach," Coughlin said in a statement released by the team Monday. "I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and as I said, the Giants organization. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants. This is a not a sad occasion for me."
The news filtered out a little more than an hour after Coughlin met with Mara and Tisch. He informed his staff later in the afternoon. Coughlin, Mara and general manager Jerry Reese will speak with reporters at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
The official designation on the move is that Coughlin stepped down. He had one year remaining on his contract. However, there is little doubt that Coughlin would return to the sidelines if the right opportunity came up. He has said in the past that he felt young for the profession -- Coughlin got his first NFL head coaching gig at 49 -- and intended to keep going. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport also noted that Coughlin could be open to the right opportunity to coach again.
The news caused a wave of sadness throughout the Giants facility on Monday. Eli Manning, the team's franchise quarterback, had to choke back tears when he addressed the only NFL head coach he's ever played for.
"He definitely has not failed these players," Manning said of Coughlin. "We failed him."
The 69-year-old was a victim of many converging circumstances on 2015. A bare cupboard behind an already thin line of everyday starters left Coughlin with few options in his secondary and along his front seven. Victor Cruz, once expected to pair with high-flying Odell Beckham, was forced into season-ending surgery without ever playing a down. Jason Pierre-Paul missed a majority of the season after blowing up his right hand during a Fourth of July fireworks accident. And all the luck that Coughlin seemed to accumulate over two white-knuckle Super Bowl runs collapsed on him in spectacular fashion. The team lost a quarter of their games in the final 13 seconds, including heartbreakers in Dallas and at home against the Patriots.
Coughlin shared part of the blame for this, which was something he readily admitted over the season, and over the years. In a day and age where coaches are cut loose because of a lack of accountability, Coughlin was always first in line to shoulder the massive burden of coaching a franchise in New York and New Jersey. Reese, who has been the Giants' general manager since 2007, will be a part of his first-ever head coaching search. And though many wanted Reese to share accountability with Coughlin during this tumultuous run, the Giants have opted to retain their general manager.
Coughlin coached more games in a Giants uniform than anyone but Steve Owen. He was the third-longest tenured head coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis. In that respect, it's incredible to think what Coughlin's legacy would have been if he coached anywhere else. Though the Giants' gig is viewed among the best in sports, Coughlin likely would not have had his hand forced in a smaller market, especially after winning a pair of Super Bowls.
It will be interesting to see what is next for Coughlin, who is still known for busting into 100-yard wind sprints around the facility. He will turn 70 before kickoff next year but has always maintained the energy and drive of a young assistant. Over 20 years in Jacksonville and in New York, Coughlin won Lombardi trophies but also whipped an expansion franchise into a formidable opponent in the matter of a few short seasons. In his second season, the Jaguars reached the conference championship. In his third and fourth, the team went 11-5. In his fifth season, the Jaguars went 14-2, losing to the Titans in the conference title game.
Coughlin always believed that he was what his record said. In that case, he could never coach again and walk into the Hall of Fame with a very strong argument to his case. Six of his 12 seasons in New York were above .500, five resulted in playoff appearances and three resulted in division titles.