The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

The Tom Coughlin All-Stars
The Tom Coughlin All-Stars
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Tom Gower

Two years ago, we started a series on "coaching all-stars," the best player-seasons in the history of some of the NFL's best coaches. With the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl, it seemed like a fun idea to run the same exercise with Tom Coughlin, and mix together the best of his Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars teams.


QB: Eli Manning, 2011 Giants
RB: Tiki Barber, 2005 Giants
WR: Jimmy Smith, 1999 Jaguars
WR: Keenan McCardell, 1997 Jaguars
WR: Victor Cruz, 2011 Giants
TE: Kyle Brady, 2000 Jaguars

Eli Manning or Mark Brunell? Mark Brunell or Eli Manning? Brunell's best season was probably 1997, when he ranked fifth in the league in passing DVOA and second in DYAR, and added 90 rushing DYAR. Manning was only eighth in DVOA and sixth in DYAR, but had almost 300 more combined DYAR. His excellent postseason, combined with Brunell's clunker in a blowout loss to the Broncos, puts him over the top.

At wide receiver, it's "pick Jimmy Smith's best season," then find a second candidate. The only non-Smith Pro Bowl seasons are Keenan McCardell in 1996 and Steve Smith in 2009, but I'll instead go with McCardell's 1997 season, when he finished third in the league in DYAR.

Before sitting down to write this, I thought Jeremy Shockey would be a lock at tight end. Kyle Brady was a better blocker, though, and had a shockingly efficient and productive year as a receiver in 2000. The last position among the skill players is the hardest to fill. Coughlin has never had particularly noteworthy fullbacks. Is there a big difference between Madison Hedgecock, Jim Finn, and Daimon Shelton? With no standout second tight end or fullback, I'll honor Victor Cruz for finishing fourth in DYAR this year and add him as a slot receiver.


LT: Tony Boselli, 1999 Jaguars
LG: Brad Meester, 2002 Jaguars
C: Shaun O'Hara, 2008 Giants
RG: Chris Snee, 2008 Giants
RT: Leon Searcy, 1999 Jaguars

As Terrell Davis is to running backs and Kurt Warner is to quarterbacks, Tony Boselli is to left tackles: a short career for the position, but quite dominant when he was healthy and at his best. He was All-Pro from 1997 through 1999. O'Hara and Snee were both Pro Bowlers from 2008 through 2010, and Snee was an All-Pro in 2008.

Right tackle and left guard were harder. Searcy is the only Pro Bowl right tackle Coughlin has had, back when the Pro Bowl used to occasionally recognize there were tackles who did not play left tackle. While the Jaguars were unimpressive by Adjusted Line Yards to the right that year, I’ll go with him over Kareem McKenzie. Coughlin has never had a Pro Bowl left guard. Meester spent his first three seasons there, moving to center in 2003. 2002 was probably Fred Taylor's most prolific rushing season, and the Jaguars were excellent between the tackles that year.


DE: Justin Tuck, 2008 Giants
DT: Gary Walker, 2001 Jaguars
DT: Fred Robbins, 2008 Giants
DE: Michael Strahan, 2005 Giants
OLB: Kevin Hardy, 1999 Jaguars
MLB: Antonio Pierce, 2006 Giants
OLB: Michael Boley, 2010 Giants

Defensive end is loaded. Osi Umenyiora made the All-Pro team over Strahan in 2005, but Strahan made his life easier. Jason Pierre-Paul's 2011 season and Tony Brackens in 1999 would probably make it for many coaches. At defensive tackle, Walker was the only Pro Bowler Coughlin had, and also made Dr. Z's All-Pro team that year. Robbins was another player who did not earn many accolades but had a long and productive career. John Henderson and Marcus Stroud were just beginning their careers in Coughlin's final season coaching the Jaguars.

Dom Capers was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator under Coughlin in 1999-2000, the only two seasons Coughlin's teams have run something other than a pure 4-3. Hardy made the All-Pro team with 10.5 sacks as a rush-backer in Capers' hybrid. Boley was probably the best of an unimpressive lot of other candidates. I was tempted to name Danny Clark, the only player to start for Coughlin in both Jacksonville and New Jersey.


CB: Corey Webster, 2008 Giants
CB: Aaron Beasley, 1999 Jaguars
FS: Antrel Rolle, 2010 Giants
SS: Kenny Phillips, 2010 Giants

Coughlin has rarely had standout players in the secondary, and it has shown in his teams' DVOA ratings. 1999 was the only season in his tenure the Jaguars were above average in passing defense DVOA. The Giants have been better, but 2010 is still the only year they cracked the top ten. Our game charting project ranked Webster among the league's top cornerbacks in 2008. Beasley had six interceptions in 1999, and made the Jaguars' 15th anniversary team.

Free safety is the only spot in the secondary where Coughlin has had a Pro Bowler, with Rolle and Carnell Lake in 1999 the honorees. Lake was at the end of a long career and had declined from his peak with the Steelers, so Rolle is my pick. The candidates at strong safety were Phillips, Gibril Wilson, and Donovin Darius. Neither Wilson nor Darius stood out against the pass while they played for Coughlin.


K: Mike Hollis, 2000 Jaguars
P: Bryan Barker, 1998 Jaguars
RET: Reggie Barlow, 1998 Jaguars

Like Mike Vanderjagt, Mike Hollis earned plaudits for his accuracy largely by attempting and making mostly not very difficult kicks. 2000 was the exception to that rule, as he hit 10 of 11 attempts from 40 yards and beyond and made 24 of 26 attempts overall.

Coughlin has generally had very good punting units. Barker and Chris Hanson of Keep Chopping Wood fame had a number of good years for the Jaguars, while Jeff Feagles made the Pro Bowl in 2008 and Steve Weatherford had an excellent year this year. Ultimately, I went with Barker the year after he made the All-Pro team. He had an excellent 38.5 yards net average per punt in 1998 and the Jaguars ranked highly in our special teams ratings. Based on our numbers, that value was entirely Barker; the Jaguars were worse than expected preventing returns given the length of Barker's punts.

Coughlin's teams have never had a return superstar. Barlow's 12.9 yards per punt return and 24.9 yards per kickoff return came out best by our numbers.

Coughlin's Jaguars tenure followed a fairly straightforward path, building to a peak in the 1999 season, which is well-represented here, and declining after that. That excellent team could not beat their division rivals in Tennessee in any of their three chances, and thus is considered a massive disappointment despite once winning a playoff game 62-7. The Giants have not followed nearly as neat a path, and thus you see players represented from more across the span of his tenure. Defensive end and wide receiver are probably the two strongest positions on the Coughlin All-Stars, while the defensive back seven seems pretty weak.

If you would like to suggest other coaches for "all-star" treatment, feel free to do so in the comments. This type of exercise works best with coaches who spent a few years with at least two different teams.

Previous coaching all-star teams:


60 comments, Last at 21 Feb 2012, 4:19pm

1 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I'd have taken Brunell over Eli, easily. Oh, well.

Wade Phillips would be an interesting coach to run an All-Stars feature on.

5 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Dang it, you took my suggestion. Ah well...

As far as Brunell over Eli, while '97 Brunell put up some good numbers, 2011 Eli put up better numbers and was a tad bit more accurate. Add the playoff victories and Super Bowl wins (with virtually ZERO running game), and 2011 Eli will always be a lock over '97 Brunell. And with Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell out wide with Victor Cruz in the slot...

53 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I guess the best question is which of Brunell's seasons you'd take over Manning's outstanding 2011.

Remember the article isn't looking at their career as a whole - just the one best season at each position.

54 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

And sometimes, we overrate players we remember but haven't seen in a long time. I've long admired Mark Brunell, and even I was surprised at his actual production.

Brunell's best season was 1997; he doesn't come close to this level ever again.

Base Stats: 264/436 (60.7%), 3281 yards, 18 TD (4.1%), 7 INT (1.6%)
Adv Stats: 998 DYAR (2), 22.1% DVOA (5), ANY/A: 7.1, ANY/A+: 119

Eli Manning's best season is 2011; he's really been playing at this level since 2008.

Base Stats: 359/589 (61%), 4933 yards, 29 TD (4.9%), 16 INT (2.7%)
Adv Stats: 1,396 DYAR (6), 23.2% DVOA (8), ANY/A: 7.4, ANY/A+ 120

You could make a case that Brunell had the better season, but it's hardly an 'easy' one. The numbers are roughly even with each other. I think the best case for Brunell is that Eli played in the year that defense didn't matter, but even that's not so clear cut. And based on the eyeball test, I'd say that Eli played under worse conditions for a QB: no Tony Boselli protecting him, and no running game. I think their receivers are roughly equal.

56 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Brunell only started 14 games in '97; had he started all 16 he'd have been #1 in DYAR (probably). That is, he had an MVP level season. Eli, this year, was only arguably a top 5 QB in his own conference. In context, it isn't close.

And that's just passing. Brunell added 90 DYAR on the ground (he was #1 in combined DYAR, in only 14 games). Eli had -14.

Brunell did have Tony Boselli, but Eli had a deeper receiving corps. I call that about a wash.

2 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

For some strange reason, I'd like to see a best Norv Turner or Herm Edwards (with a few "Week In Herm" quotes sprinkled in). Maybe a Tony Dungy, if you don't want to go there.

31 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Norv Turner has only ever coached one really talented team and that was the 2007 Chargers. They lost to the then undefeated Patriots in the AFC Championship Game (partially thanks to injuries to Rivers, Tomlinson and Gates).

4 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I'd love to see some reasoning for picking Tiki Barber over Fred Taylor.

10 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I think people forget how amazing Tiki was in the last 3 yrs of his career. Yeah, he's been a total douchebag since retiring (really starting in his last year), but the dude was a machine.

11 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Before he became TMZ fodder, Tiki was a damned good, even great RB. 2005 was a career year, and posted MVP-like numbers while Eli was completing 52% of his passes.

Tiki Barber 2005:
357 car, 1,860 yards (5.2 YPC); 342 DYAR (4), 15.3% DVOA (7)
54 rec, 530 yards (9.8 YPC); 209 DYAR (1), 43.8% DVOA (2)

Fred Taylor 2002:
Running: 287 car, 1314 yards (4.6 YPC); 170 DYAR (8), 7% DVOA (8)
Receiving: 49 rec, 408 yards (8.3 YPC); 100 DYAR (10), 18.3% DVOA (14)

I have a lot of respect for Fred Taylor, but there's no comparison.

17 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I'd look at Taylor's 2000 season personally, 15.1% DVOA (3), also #3 in DYAR despite only playing in 13 games. That season included 234 for 4 against the Steelers at home when they were #5 against the run, as well as big numbers twice versus the Titans who were #2 vs the run. I think you can make a case for either 2000 Taylor or 2005 Tiki, but I don't think it is that clear cut, unless you are picking for fantasy, in which case, yeah, take 2005 Tiki.

18 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Taylor had comparable (but not superior) rushing production, but was pretty awful receiving in 2000.

292 Car, 1399 Yards (4.8 YPC); 302 DYAR (3), 15.1% DVOA (3)
36 Rec, 240 Yards, (6.7 YPC); -11 DYAR (48), -17.8% DVOA (48)

To put it another way, Tiki's 2005 combined rushing/receiving numbers were better than MVP Shaun Alexander's.

20 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I recall at the time that there were people saying Tiki should have been MVP in 05. His combined #'s were sick. Remember, he put up those receiving #'s with non-elite Eli throwing the ball.

19 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Independent George covered this-Taylor's two best years, 2000 and 2002, were inferior in both conventional and FO terms to Tiki's 2005 season. We laugh at Tiki now (I do, at least), but he was outstandingly productive running and receiving in 2005.

6 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

It's hard to think of good candidates who had long tenures at two teams; most of the good ones lasted a long time in one place before moving on.

Mike Holmgren is an obvious candidate for future editions, if we can tolerate more Stubbleface discussions. Jimmy Johnson coached for a lot fewer years than I thought he did, but his record in Miami is better than I remembered. Ditka only lasted three seasons in New Orleans. Gruden? Denny Green would be interesting, but only lasted three years in Arizona.

I'd love to see Herm Edwards or Dick Jauron get the treatment, even though neither really lasted all that long. Just for kicks, Rich Kottite would be awesome (though I suspect his talent is better than we remember, which kind of highlights his futility).

33 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

In that category, I can't think of a better team than the Bill Romanowski ALL STARS.
The '91, '92, '93 49ers; the '97-'00 Broncos and throw in the 2002 Raiders in for good measure.

52 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Try the Preston Pearson All-Stars - he jumped from Pittsburgh to Dallas in the mid-70s, and, oh yeah, had been with Shula and Unitas on the Colts in the late 60s.

There'd be a least a half-dozen Hall of Famers he played with who wouldn't crack the lineup.

50 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Charles Haley would have some nice players to choose from as well. I mean you get a Joe Montana vs Steve Young vs Troy Aikman vs well Jeff Garcia debate! :) Sure he only played for two teams but they were Super Bowl caliber 49ers and Cowboys.

55 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

In which case what about Deion ... his career went something like Atlanta 1989-93, San Francisco 1994, Dallas 1995-1999, Washington 2000, Baltimore 2004.

Is there any member of that Redskins makes it into the team?

22 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

The issue would be that apart from maybe Freeney it would basically read Colts on offense, Bucs on defense. It would be a damn good team, but a boring exercise compared to the ones that have been done (I guess the Mora team was similar to that).

I think Holmgren is a good idea, because he had a long tenure with two teams that were similar in the way they were built.

15 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I'd love to see an All George Allen team. An All Jack Pardee team would also be interesting.

16 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Would it be cheating to move Tuck to DT and Osi or JPP to DE? That's where Tuck did most of his damage in his Super Bowl appearances.

42 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

IMHO, the Giants pass rush really hasn't been the same since Robbins left. That guy was a beast, wayyy to quick and big for most interior linemen to handle.

25 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Here's the list of the remaining coaches with 3 or more playoff games with more than one team:

Don Shula
Mike Holmgren
Dan Reeves
Tony Dungy
Chuck Knox
Jimmy Johnson
Jon Gruden

Any of these guys could have some potential interest, but I think Knox, Shula, and Holmgren, in some order, would be my top three.

35 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Why not a Marion Campbell LEAST valuable? The Swamp Fox could coach some defense, but buy was he terrible as a head coach. How he even got a second try, let alone a third, is beyond me.

59 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

At first I thought no players from the 2000's could possibly make an All-Gibbs team, but after consideration there are quite a few potential candidates: Chris Cooley, London Fletcher, Marcus Washington, Santana Moss, Shawn Springs, Sean Taylor, and possibly Chris Samuels. Cooley and Taylor are pretty much locks, and it's hard to argue against Moss when he holds the franchise record for receiving yards in a season. Springs was huge in 2004. Washington and Fletcher have strong cases too. Hell, you could even argue for Portis '05 over Riggins '83 and it wouldn't be insane. Ok, you talked me into it, here's my very tentative All-Gibbs team without choosing years for OL (and not bothering with ST):

QB: Theismann '83
RB: Portis '05 (yeah I went there)
WR1: Monk '84
WR2: Moss '05
WR3: Clark '87 (Trips!)
H-back: Cooley '07
LT: Lachey
LG: Grimm
C: Bostic
RG: May
RT: Jacoby

DE: Manley '86
DT: Butz '83
DT: Grant '84 (EDIT: maybe Griffin '04?)
DE: Mann '85
OLB: Washington '04
ILB: Fletcher '07
OLB: Marshall '92
S: Taylor '06
S: Murphy '83
CB: Green '91
CB: Springs '05

Final count: 80's Gibbs 15, 2000's Gibbs 7 (EDIT: Or maybe 14-8). Huh, that was a lot closer than I would have guessed, especially when the first group had 12 years to choose from and the second group only had 4. Taking that into account, I'm calling this an upset win for the 2000's Gibbs.

39 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I guess it doesn't have to come down to playoff games ... I tell you who would be good ... Jerry Glanville - 3 years with the Oilers and 3 with the Falcons. There were some super-talented players across those two teams if I recall ...

I'm guessing there's no point in looking at Tom Flores, Buddy Ryan, George Seifert or Sam Wyche? And possibly not even Bill Belichick?

40 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Seifert would be fun just to see if there would be anyone from the Carolina years. I'll admit I don't have a great memory of who played on those teams (other than the fact that Chris Weinke, the 29 year old rookie, went 1-14), but those 49er teams he coached were so consistently great.

41 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Reggie White came back for a final swansong season in 2000 after a year out from Green Bay ... 5.5 sacks ... better than any 49ers DE?

And didn't Steve Beuerlein have a season to be remembered in 1999? Can't really see it topping Montana in 1989 or Young in his league-leading years!

I suspect Muhsin Muhammed's 1999 or 2000 is actually good enough to get him the 2nd WR slot across from Jerry Rice. A quick browse through select years of Seifert's 49ers and Rice used to catch about 100 balls then the TEs and RBs would catch a pile; and then John Taylor, JJ Stokes or Terrell Owens would catch about 40-60. But of course Muhammed was a #1 WR in his own right and whether he would have caught his 1999/2000 numbers with JR across from him is unlikely.

Of course on special teams there was John Kasay.

49 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Beuerlein came to mind, but I'm guessing that Montana's '89 or Young's '94 beats it easily.

Muhammad went 102/1183/6 in 2000. John Taylor's two best Seifert years are 1989 and 19991. '89 was 60/1077/10 and '91 was 64/1011/9. Both years he was the #2 behind Rice. It would be close. Muhammad's stats didn't translate well to FO stats, as he was 20th in DYAR and 34th in DVOA for WRs in 2000.

Kevin Fagan had two nice years at DE in 1989-1990, adn Rickey Jackson in p-f-r is listed as a DE in 1995 where he had 10.5 sacks. Chris Doleman and Roy Barker both had 10+ sack years in 1996. There's quite a bit of competition for the DE spots. Even in the 1-15 year, Mike Rucker had 9 sacks.

26 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Good grief, Tony Boselli was a great pass blocker before his shoulders gave out. Guys, even Pro Bowl guys, would not even get a sniff of a pressure, much less a sack, when faced with Boselli's amazing technique and athleticism.

29 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Boselli was the first offensive lineman I ever really noticed and paid attention to. Before him, I only ever thought of offensive linemen as big fat guys who ran into people.

60 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

I am fairly certain that the loss of Tony Boselli set the Texans back by about 5 years. They lost their franchise's first pick in the expansion draft, AND they didn't have an all-world LT to protect their very first #1 draft pick. I sometimes wonder how David Carr's career turns out if he'd had Boselli protecting his blind side.

30 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Did Carnell Lake play free safety in Jacksonville? He was a strong safety in Pittsburgh (and emergency corner when Woodson went down).

38 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Sorry to harp on this every time I notice it: Is there any chance we can abandon the usage "skill players"? (At least you put it in quotation marks.) Are you really certain that a wide receiver demonstrates more "skill" than a left tackle or a middle linebacker? If "skill" is something that can develop, why do many receivers and backs have an impact their very first year, while linemen often have to play a few years before they fully grasp the techniques necessary for success? Doesn't the coordination among players on the offensive line require at least as much "skill" as the coordination among receivers running different patterns on the same play? Could I get an "amen" from Ben Muth at least?

BTW, this isn't personal. I ran cross-country during football season and, had I foolishly elected to play football, my 6 foot 135 lb. physique would not have lent itself to playing on the line!

45 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

That's why it is in quotation marks. We have to use the terminology that is accepted by the public, or else people won't know what we're talking about, but we wanted to make clear we don't think other players are "unskilled."

One other note: As far as suggestions of other coaches to do, Chuck Knox would be tough for us to do as FO writers because he coached only three (soon to be four) years in the DVOA era.

47 Re: The Tom Coughlin All-Stars

Point taken, Aaron. However, it would be more evident if the scare quotes were just around "skill" rather than "skill players." Additionally, one of the best things about FO is that it educates people about new ways to look at the game. Why not educate them on this point? Terminology that is accepted by the public used to include "red dog," "defensive halfback," "flanker," "run to establish the pass," etc. Terminology changes all the time in football (in life, for that matter.)

Really, this is just a bete noire of mine, so thank for taking the time to respond.