Coughlin is given a one-year reprieve

He didn't get an ultimatum, but the owners message was clear.
CALDWELL, N.J. (AP) -- Tom Coughlin was given a one-year reprieve to turn the New York Giants into a legitimate contender.
While the team's owners didn't give him an ultimatum, their message was clear.
"I think he knows we need to do better, that our expectations are much higher," co-owner John Mara said Wednesday. "I think we have enough talent on this roster to do better."
Mara and co-owner Jonathan Tisch gave the 60-year-old coach a one-year contract extension through 2008, an agreement reached just days after the Giants were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season.
Disappointing finish
It was a disappointing finish for a team that won the NFC East in 2005 with an 11-5 mark and thought it had a Super Bowl shot coming into this season. A 6-2 first-half fueled those expectations.
However, injuries to seven-time Pro Bowler Michael Strahan and leading receiver Amani Toomer, dumb mistakes and a sub-par second half by quarterback Eli Manning led to a 2-7 finish that caused fan unrest and put Coughlin's job in jeopardy after New York's 23-20 playoff loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday.
In the two days that followed, Tisch and Mara talked football and future plans with Coughlin, and he convinced them he could make Manning better and the team a winner.
"He has a vision and he understands how that vision can now move forward," Tisch said. "He did not have to save his job. He did not have to talk us into anything."
The owners didn't ask Coughlin to make any changes and they said they were satisfied he was the right man to lead the Giants.
"Tom Coughlin is our coach for 2007 and hopefully for many years after that," Mara said. "That is the final decision."
Hopefully is the key word, though. If there is another disappointment, the Giants might be knocking on the door of former Steelers coach Bill Cowher or Notre Dame boss Charlie Weis.
"When I become convinced that somebody in this organization is not capable of doing the job any longer then we are not going to hesitate to take action," Mara said. "That is not the case here. I believe that Tom is an excellent coach and I believe that we will win with him."
Coughlin not surprised
Coughlin, who was to earn 3 million in 2007, appreciated the decision but said he wasn't surprised.
"I did not have any feeling I wasn't going to be retained," Coughlin said in a separate conference call.
Terms of the one-year extension weren't immediately available.
Strahan, who missed eight of the last nine games, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey all welcomed Coughlin back for a fourth season.
"Like I've been saying, the coach is the real deal," Pierce said. "He's a good coach and he does a good job and we all share in what happened this season."
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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