The roster wasn’t the only target in Reese’s crosshairs due for a shakeup.
The coaching staff, particularly on offense, was sure to undergo a refresh after team CEO John Mara famously labeled it as “broken” in his season-ending press conference.
The natural assumption of many was that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride would not be back in 2014. That came to fruition when Gilbride announced his retirement just days after Mara’s scathing comments.
What came as a surprise, though, is that long-time tight ends coach Michael Pope was let go as part of a shakeup that also saw running backs coach Jerald Ingram relieved of his duties.
While it’s true that Pope didn’t get much out of his personnel—Adrien Robinson, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick, has come along at a snail’s pace; Larry Donnell's game has been rife with inconsistencies; Brandon Myers simply wasn’t cut out to be a blocker, and Bear Pascoe never really got a chance to settle down in one role—the coach's reputation and past success were hard to ignore.
Instead, Kevin M. Gilbride, the son of the former offensive coordinator, will move from his post as the team’s receivers coach to tight ends.
Gilbride, who last coached tight ends in 2006 when he was an assistant at Georgetown, had similar production issues with the Giants receivers.
Hakeem Nicks was a colossal disappointment; Rueben Randle was inconsistent; Louis Murphy was nonexistent, and Jerrel Jernigan couldn’t get on the field until late in the year when injuries and the lack of cap space made it a necessity.
Let's look at some basic stats pulled from NFL.com. In 2013, the Giants’ receivers averaged 14.0 yards per reception, the tight ends 10.2 yards. In the case of the receivers, their average only one-half yard better than the group’s 2012 average, a season in which Nicks fought through injuries.
Per data pulled from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Giants receivers and tight ends finished with drop rates of 9.29 and 7.46 percent respectively in 2013.
To be fair, PFF credited Giant receivers with 226 catchable balls to the tight ends’ 67. However, a closer look at the individual percentages reveal that Nicks (11.11 percent) and Randle (10.87 percent), the Giants’ first and third receivers respectively, had the highest drop-rate percentages of the receivers.
Myers, the starting tight end last year, had a six percent drop rate.
The point is that while Pope didn’t get the most out of last year’s tight end group, neither did Gilbride from the receivers. Yet Gilbride survived the cut and Pope was sent packing, although he landed on his feet with the Dallas Cowboys.
With the tight end position still a question mark for the Giants, can Gilbride succeed where Pope failed in terms of getting something out of Robinson and Donnell, plus working with any new talent the Giants might bring in via the draft?
Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.