New York Giants fans won't have Kevin Gilbride to kick around anymore after the veteran offensive coordinator announced his retirement on Thursday, Jan. 2.
Per Michael Eisen of Giants.com, Gilbride explained his decision:
It’s hard to say, ‘It’s time.’ To finally do it, it’s a very unnatural feeling. I’ve been telling my wife (Debbie) for years I was going to do it. She moved back to Rhode Island (where she helps care for a granddaughter when the Gilbrides’ daughter is working), so I’ve been by myself in the hotel for three or four years. I knew this was it and I was going to do it. I finally pulled the trigger. But it’s difficult.
Eli Manning offered praise for his former offensive coordinator, per the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano via Sulia:
I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Kevin. I’m really sad to see him retire. He has been with me from day one as my quarterbacks coach and then my coordinator. He really taught me everything I needed to learn to become an NFL quarterback. We’ve had so much success together, obviously winning our two Super Bowls. His offenses have had great success in this league for many, many years. He’s been a great coach and great friend over these 10 years, and I’m definitely going miss him on the field and in the meeting rooms.
Victor Cruz also added his appreciation for everything Gilbride had done for his career.
Tough to see my mentor and friend Coach Kevin Gilbride retire. He was a second father to me and has taught me so much. Wish you the best!— Victor Cruz (@TeamVic) January 2, 2014
With the Giants' offensive struggles in recent years, many fans have laid the blame at the foot of Gilbride. When the team puts together the kind of year it did in 2013, heads will generally roll, and the future of Gilbride was a subject of debate since the season ended.
However, Vacchiano believes any major criticism of the offensive coordinator is off-base:
Because the truth is, Gilbride didn’t create this mess. The Giants’ failures this season were more personnel than coaching. And quite frankly, this whole idea that Gilbride should go feels like an unseemly knee-jerk reaction that is unbecoming of the Giants. (Giants President John) Mara preaches patience and stability. He shouldn’t need a scapegoat just because fans are mad.
Gilbride's record certainly speaks for itself.
When he was offensive coordinator in Houston during the early 1990s, the Oilers had one of the best offenses in the league. He then had success with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars came to within a game of the Super Bowl in 1996.
It wasn't until Gilbride followed Coughlin to New York in 2004 that he would attain as much success and then some. The Giants would go on to win two Super Bowls, and he helped to develop Eli Manning into a franchise quarterback.
With Gilbride as the offensive coordinator, the Giants had a top-10 offense four years in a row between 2008 and 2011 in terms of both yardage and points.
Old age and injuries have conspired to see New York take a nosedive offensively in the last two years, however.
Still, Gilbride had a lot of success in New York overall. And while the team's recent struggles offensively are fresh in the minds of Giants fans, they could come to realize everything he had done for the team and how good his offenses were a few years ago, when he had a strong stable of weapons.
New York no doubt has a huge task ahead to try to find Gilbride's successor.