If you're New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, winning a second Super Bowl in five seasons has earned you the right to coach until you retire. However, it does not seem like the 66-year-old head coach has any plans to retire after becoming the oldest coach to win a title.
Having said that, when he does decide to call it quits, who has the tools to replace him? Which assistant coaches could become the next great head coach? Steve Spagnuolo—who spent two years as the Giants' defensive coordinator—has already tried and failed his hand at head coaching.
Here are three names on the Giants staff that I believe could step in once Coughlin retires.
Pat Flaherty may not have much head coaching experience at the collegiate or pro level, but he has been the Giants' offensive line coach since Coughlin was made head coach in 2004.
He has the respect of the organization after making the Giants line into one of the best offensive line units in all of football for most of his time with the team.
Back in 2010, former center Shaun O'Hara credited Flaherty for the success of the Giants running attack during a radio interview (via NJ.com):
He’s constantly teaching us. And ‘Flats’ knows as much about defenses as he does about offenses, which is something a lot of guys aren’t used to. He understands safeties, coverages, schemes and exactly how defensive guys are going to play us.
So we’re not just studying fronts. We understand the concepts of why they’re doing what they’re doing. That alone makes us better offensive linemen than other guys.
The bottom line in the NFL is that players respect results, and other than the 2011 season, Flaherty's offensive lines have been top notch in the league.
Sean Ryan was recently promoted to quarterbacks coach after Mike Sullivan was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be their offensive coordinator.
Though Ryan has not done any work as a quarterbacks coach with the Giants yet, his work with the wide receivers over the previous two seasons was phenomenal.
The Giants went through a plethora of injuries at the receiver position in 2010, yet the offense continued clicking for the most part. Hakeem Nicks broke through with his first 1,000-yard season, despite playing just 13 games that year. He also added 11 touchdowns.
In 2011, Nicks continued to improve and has become one of the best wide receivers in the league. Not only that, but Victor Cruz emerged from nowhere to become a dominant threat, setting the franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards.
Obviously, Ryan is doing something right. If given the opportunity, I believe he could not only run an offense, but take over as head coach.
Perry Fewell has been seen as a hot commodity for head coaching positions for the past two seasons, and there is a good reason why.
After taking over as interim head coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2009, Fewell joined the Giants as their defensive coordinator.
He took one of the franchises' worst defenses historically and turned them into a top-10 unit. Some changes in personnel helped, but mostly Fewell's scheme and motivational skills turned that defense around.
With injuries to the secondary in 2011, the defense took a step back, but was noticeably affected when Fewell went to a different game plan prior to the New York Jets game in Week 16. He simplified the things, especially in the secondary, which had been struggling over the second half of the season.
The defense responded with some of their best games ever, allowing just 84 points in their last six games. This included holding the high-powered New England Patriots offense to just 17 points in Super Bowl XLVI.
Fewell's ability to transform this defense, twice, has been noted around the league and he's been interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs. If the Giants are unable to promote him to the job soon, they risk losing one of the next great head coaches.