Tom Coughlin may no longer be the coach of the Giants, but he quickly came to his former quarterback’s defense after news broke that the Giants are benching Eli Manning for the foreseeable future and will start Geno Smith against the Raiders Sunday.
“Surprised is not the word. My sentiments are totally with Eli Manning,” Coughlin said on 1010 AM Tuesday. “I love the kid.”
Coughlin and Manning were joined at the hip throughout their time in New York, as both joined the Giants in 2004 and were instrumental to the team’s success and failure.
The two developed a strong bond and led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins in 2008 and 2012.
Tom Coughlin was upset when he heard of Eli Manning’s benching.
In addition to expressing his bewilderment at the move, Coughlin also praised Manning as not only a good player, but a good person as well.
“He is a class act. He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion,” Coughlin said on the radio show. “He is the finest, most humblest young man in that locker room.
Coughlin, who is currently the executive vice president of football operations with the Jaguars, said despite the Giants’ poor record this season, he is “very upset” with the decision to bench Manning.
Eli Manning was benched as the Giants’ starting quarterback Tuesday.
“I haven’t followed the Giants. I know it’s a disappointing year, but my thoughts are strictly with Eli,” Coughlin said. “I’m very upset about when I heard that.”
Coughlin, 71, resigned as the Giants’ head coach in 2016. Manning was visibly emotional and appeared to tear up during Coughlin’s press conference at the time.
“He’s extremely bright, he’s extremely competitive, he’s what you want a son to be made out of,” Coughlin said of Manning at the time. “He thinks he’s the reason. He’s not the reason. Eli, it’s not you. It’s us. We win, we lose together.”
Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin won two Super bowls together with the Giants.
(Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News )
With Manning’s future with the Giants in doubt, speculation will quickly turn as to where the two-time Super Bowl MVP will look to play out the rest of his career.
A reunion with Coughlin in Jacksonville will almost surely surface as a likely landing spot.
The Jaguars have been one of the NFL’s most surprising teams this season and currently sit atop the AFC South with a 7-4 record.
However, despite the Jaguars’ impressive record, quarterback Blake Bortles has continued to disappoint. The former No. 3 pick has completed only 58% of his passes this season and has thrown just 12 touchdowns while turning the ball over 13 times (8 interceptions and 5 lost fumbles).
With the Jaguars unlikely to secure a high pick in this year’s draft — which will result in the team missing out on top quarterback prospects Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen — a Coughlin-Manning reunion in sunny Florida may very well be a possibility.