Jan 192007
 
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New York Giants Officially Promote Kevin Gilbride to Offensive Coordinator: The Giants officially announced yesterday that Kevin Gilbride has been promoted to the offensive coordinator position. From 2004 to 2006, Gilbride served as Tom Coughlin’s quarterback coach with the Giants. Before the regular season finale against the Redskins, the Giants fired Offensive Coordinator John Hufnagel and handed play-calling duties to Gilbride, without the official “offensive coordinator” title.

On the surface, this appears to be an odd move given Gilbride’s inability to develop QB Eli Manning and his recent failure as an offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh (1999-2000) and Buffalo (2002-2003). He was Coughlin’s offensive coordinator in Jacksonville from 1995-1996.

“(The last two games of the season) was an opportunity for Kevin to demonstrate his leadership skills, and I thought he did a good job,” Coughlin said. “Based on that performance it became clear to me that he is deserving of the role of offensive coordinator. The good thing is that he has worked hand-in-hand with Eli, and Eli and the offensive team will welcome this announcement. I made the decision to create a spark and I think a spark was created. I think the offense – the players and the coaches – rallied around Kevin and certainly gave evidence that this was something that they are most excited about continuing.”

“The flavor of play-calling many times is the ability to do the unexpected,” Coughlin said. “I think Kevin does that well. We had a 3rd-and-10 when we ran a draw down in Washington. It did not succeed. But there was a draw on a 3rd-and-10 in the Seattle-Chicago (divisional playoff) that scored a touchdown. One of the tricks in play-calling is obviously to do the unexpected. Also, the belief in balance is ingrained. Philosophically, we’re both on the same page that way.”

Coughlin warned that there will not be radical changes to the offense. But one wonders if he did kept a straight face when he said, “It’s the New York Giants’ system. And the New York Giants’ system has tremendous flexibility.”

“I expect the ball to go down the field more than it did this year,” Coughlin said, an odd statement since many have been critical of the Giants not helping out Manning more with the short passing game. “There are two things. One, we didn’t score enough points. Two, our big-play production was not what it was a year ago. Those two things have to come back up. It was been discussed and I’m confident we can regain that stature.”

“I had an opportunity to experience him not only as a coordinator (in Jacksonville), but as a play-caller on Sundays,” said Coughlin. “I was always very impressed with that part of his game. I think he’s an excellent teacher. He’s articulate. He’s blunt, but when he makes corrections it’s encouraging rather than deflating. That’s been a positive.”

“I think Tom pretty much had made up his mind (to pick me as the new offensive coordinator) based upon what he had known from that body of work and the response of the players over the last two games,” said Gilbride. “I didn’t say or discuss anything with him. He came to me afterwards and said if things work out, then you’ll be the offensive coordinator here, and we’ll move forward from this point on.”

“The system that we put together was a combination of a lot of different thoughts,” said Gilbride. “The core was certainly things that Tom wanted in. Then we have the things that (John Huffnagel) brought with him from New England and Indianapolis, and I had brought with me, and the other coaches as well. So it really became the New York Giants system. It wasn’t any one individual. It was a hybrid approach to things, but I think it was a good one. It was certainly steep in sound principles. So any tweaking that will take place will take place after we go through the cutups and see those areas that maybe need to be reexamined and re-thought through, that maybe there’s a better approach out there than the one we were taking. But essentially it will be the same, and hopefully we’ll do a better job of implementing it and instructing it with the players and getting them to execute it better. Certainly we’ve got to throw the ball better than we did this year. I don’t think there’s any question that that was an area where we were not as productive as we think we can be. You get Luke Petitgout back, you get Amani Toomer back, that helps, but there’s also other areas. I think we need to be a little more efficient throwing the ball down the field, getting Jeremy Shockey involved down the field. getting other players involved – having them earn the trust and confidence of the quarterback besides just Plaxico (Burress), who was pretty much our individual deep threat.”

When Gilbride was asked about the development of Manning, he responded, “You look at the playoff quarterbacks – you’ve seen some of the ups and downs of some of the other guys in these games and you compare (that) to what he did in our playoff game, and I think you see that he’s certainly right up there at the top of the people that he’s competing with at that position. I think the biggest thing with him is that we’ve got to stay away from those bad plays, those catastrophic plays which are such momentum killers. Unfortunately we had a few of those last year. It’s really the consistency thing. When he’s playing as well as he’s capable of, I think his accuracy, his arm strength – I think even his technique – was better. But it’s those plays that jumped up and bit us. We can’t have those and he knows that. If we can avoid those things, then we certainly have a chance – because we’re only going to go as far as he takes us – for both he and our offensive unit and therefore our team, will have the best chance to be in the hunt again.”

Notes and Quotes: The Star-Ledger speculates that the Giants may be looking at former Falcons’ Head Coach Jim Mora or current Redskins’ Defensive Backs Coach Jerry Gray as their next defensive coordinator. The Journal News says that Coughlin is believed to be very interested in Mora.

The Bergen Record is reporting that the Giants have been looking around the League for a new special teams coach. Special Teams Coordinator Mike Sweatman may retire.

The Giants will also hire a new quarterbacks coach to fill the vacancy caused by the promotion of Gilbride. Names being mentioned by the press include Dolphins’ Quarterback Coach Jason Garrett and Bills’ Offensive Quality Control Coach Alex Van Pelt. “I think Tom is obviously going to make the decision,” said Gilbride. “He’s already mentioned a few names that he’s thinking about. I think he’s taking his time. I don’t think he feels he’s in any rush. He wants to makes sure he has any candidate that’s available, that he’s giving them a thorough review. We’ll try to find a guy that is certainly knowledgeable about the position of quarterbacks technically and fundamentally but also can bring something to the table in terms of gameplanning thoughts and contribute in those areas as well.”

Gilbride on OC Shaun O’Hara, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason: “We’d love to have him back and I think if we can get all the parts back, including Luke (Petitgout), that makes us a better offensive football team because we have a better offensive line that’s worked together. Not only is Shaun a part of it because of his ability level but because he’s very much, at the center position, a leader of that line because he makes most of the calls and directs most of the things after the quarterback has given him his instructions. It would be a big loss. If we have to (start Rich Seubert instead), then we have to go that way, but we certainly don’t want to. Hopefully management and his agent can get the thing worked out.”

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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