- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the top 20 NFL coaches of all time stops at No. 14 today with current New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin. The feature includes a first-person story from Eli Manning about the two of them breaking down what should and shouldn't have happened on the final offensive drive of a Super Bowl they'd won together an hour and a half earlier. It beautifully sums up Coughlin (and Manning, and why they were made for each other):
So after the game, Coach Coughlin and I started analyzing it. We knew they were going to let us score. Do you take a knee? Do you kick a field goal? Do you try to score? We start dissecting that, thinking into it. I threw in my theory. He gave me his theory. What's the best possible way? It was a unique situation. You've got to score. You don't want to settle for a field goal in that situation. How do you possibly handle that situation if it ever happens again? We do situations on Saturdays. That would be a good situation to think about and go over.
And I think he's ingrained that in me, to always be planning, always be thinking, and to be prepared for every situation.
Coughlin is old school. He's no-nonsense. He's about doing your job and not seeking to heap praise and glory on yourself for doing it. It has worked to the tune of two Super Bowl titles during his time in New York, and honestly he deserves more credit than he gets for his franchise-building work as the original head coach of a Jacksonville Jaguars team that went to the AFC Championship Game in two of its first five seasons.
He is not flashy or loud or self-aggrandizing. He is decent and genuine and serious. In a world that increasingly celebrates those first three things, I think it's pretty doggone refreshing to see someone who represents the last three get his time in the spotlight. While it might have seemed silly just three years ago to consider Coughlin one of the top 14 coaches in the history of the NFL, I think at this point there's little doubt that he's earned his spot on this list.