Coughlin to learn this week if Giants want him back

PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Coughlin's future with the
New York Giants was uncertain Sunday after he coached the defending NFC East
champions into the playoffs with a .500 record and couldn't get
them out of the opening round of the playoffs for the second
straight year.

Tom Coughlin Coughlin

"I'll have something to say later in the week," Giants
co-owner John Mara said when asked about Coughlin's future shortly
after a heartbreaking 23-20 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles
on a last-second field goal by David Akers.

Coughlin is scheduled to make $3 million next season, the final
year of a four-year deal that he signed early in January 2004.

While the 60-year-old disciplinarian has taken the team to
consecutive playoff berth for the first time since 1989-90, the
trips to the postseason have not been successful.

Carolina embarrassed New York 23-0 at Giants Stadium last
season, and the loss to the Eagles capped a frustrating season
(8-9) that began with Super Bowl hopes.

The season also featured a lot of undisciplined penalties and
missed assignments uncharacteristic of a team with a no-nonsense

"I am not commenting on that," Coughlin said when asked about
his future.

Coughlin's future might be left to the team's new general
manager. Ernie Accorsi is retiring after this season, but it's more
likely Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch will made a decision before

This final game was similar to the Giants' season. There was a
good start, a big lull in the middle, inconsistent play down the
stretch and a failure to make big plays with the game on the line.

There also has been turmoil, which actually first appeared after
the playoff loss to Carolina last year when now retiring halfback
Tiki Barber said the Giants were outcoached.

Coughlin and Barber mended the fences after the season, but the
"outcoached" problem reared up after a loss to Seattle in the
third week of the season. This time it was Pro Bowl tight end
Jeremy Shockey complaining.

The insurrection ended when the Giants went on a five-game
winning streak that gave them a 6-2 mark at the halfway point. They
lost seven of their last nine.

Fans also expressed their frustration with Coughlin late in the
season after the New Orleans Saints embarrassed the Giants 30-7 in
the final home game.

"Fire Coughlin!" was clearly audible throughout the stadium
before it emptied out early in the fourth quarter.

Barber came to Coughlin's defense Sunday, saying the coach made
a big move late in the season by replacing offensive coordinator
John Hufnagel and giving the play-calling to quarterbacks coach
Kevin Gilbride.

"I am sure he is going to have many hard decisions in front of
him, just as well as is this organization going to have some hard
decisions," Barber said. "I trust them to do the right thing
because they always have."

For the most part, Giants players deferred when asked about
Coughlin's future, saying it was up to ownership.

Safety Gibril Wilson stood behind his coach.

"Coach Coughlin is a great coach," Wilson said. "He gets us
prepared. He knows exactly what it takes. I hope he is back.
Hopefully, management feels the same way I feel."

Shockey believes that the turmoil of this season has had a
positive effect.

"Next year this team will be close and a force to be reckoned
with," Shockey said.

Whether that's with Coughlin as coach remains to be seen.