New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride must wake up and the smell the coffee. There’s a reason why Giants fans refer to him as “Kevin Kill-Drive,” and it was on display in spades in Sunday night’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
Now I want to make something clear: Gilbride is not to blame for the loss. That catastrophe of a game does not rest solely on his shoulders. However, he did contribute to it. Gilbride patrolled the sidelines like a zombie for over two and a half quarters, waiting until the Giants were down three possessions to finally let Eli Manning loose.
Fast forward to the second half. David Wilson coughs it up for a second time on the Giants’ first drive of the third quarter. Dallas’ Barry Church recovers the fumble and takes it 27 yards to the house to make the score 20-10 Cowboys with about 12 and a half minutes left in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Da’Rel Scott takes over for Wilson, who is relegated to a sideline gargoyle for the rest of the game. Gilbride calls Scott’s number on first down and Scott picks up three yards. Gilbride goes back to Scott on second down and he is stuffed for no gain.
This is Da’Rel Scott, mind you. Not starter David Wilson. Scott is a decent player who would likely not have made the team if Andre Brown did not get hurt.
It’s true, Manning could have changed the play at the line of scrimmage and it could have been his decision to hand it off on back-to-back plays. Somehow, I doubt it. This is not an isolated incident, as Giants fans have been watching Gilbride pull this kind of thing for years. Complaints have been muffled and squashed because of the success the Giants have had but personally, I attribute that to Manning more than I do Gilbride.
Anyway, on third down, Manning hooks up with Hakeem Nicks for a 15-yard gain. On the next play, Manning finds Victor Cruz for another five yards.
Well let’s see, the Giants seem to be moving the ball through the air, so what should they do next? Gilbride astutely answered that question with back-to-back Scott runs that totaled four yards, and the Giants were forced to punt. I could understand handing it to Andre Brown on third and one, but the Giants didn’t have that option. Once again, this is Da’Rel Scott.
In response to the Giants’ failed drive, Tony Romo and the Cowboys marched down the field in three and a half minutes, capping the drive with a Jason Witten touchdown. The Cowboys now lead 27-10.
When the Giants have dug themselves a hole where they are now down three possessions, a cartoon-esque light bulb finally goes off above Gilbride’s head and he decides to free Manning from his straitjacket. Manning throws on the first four plays of the next drive, resulting in 46 yards and three first downs. Scott breaks off a 16-yard scamper for another first down and after two incompletions, Manning finds Cruz for an 18-yard touchdown.
Here’s the drive summary: seven passes, one run, 80 yards and seven points.
After Dallas tacks on a field goal, the Giants’ next drive is comprised of seven pass plays, no runs and yet another Cruz salsa.
Gilbride, who took over as offensive coordinator in 2007, needs to understand that this is a passing league and he has a two-time Super Bowl MVP behind the wheel. The Giants are best when Manning finds a rhythm, and with an arsenal of receivers, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
I understand that the Giants can’t throw the ball on every down. Wilson was supposed to be the guy to bring a greater balance to the offense. Last night, that wasn’t the case. Apparently, expecting an in-game adjustment from Gilbride is like expecting a blizzard in August.
In training camp, general manager Jerry Reese put the entire team “on notice”. If more games are managed in this fashion, we’ll see if Reese’s statement is real or just an empty threat.
Daniel Brennan covers the New York Giants for Rant Sports. He lives in Westchester, New York and is a graduate of Quinnipiac University.