Kevin Gilbride: The Achilles' Heel to the NY Giants Success?

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IMay 28, 2009

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30:  Quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on December 30, 2006 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Giants’ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has certainly had his ups and downs in the NFL.  He’s been a coordinator for many teams, most notably, the Oilers, Jaguars and now Giants.

However, the incident most remembered when his name is mentioned took place off the field during an Oilers game in which defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan threw a punch at Gilbride.

The irony is that not only did the Oilers win that game, a 24-0 shutout of the Jets, but also it was the last game of the regular season and a meaningless one to the already central division champions. 

Ryan had criticized Gilbride’s play calling the whole season, citing that his mistakes forced Ryan’s defense to have to step up even more. The two didn’t have to worry about the consequences, since Ryan took the Arizona Cardinals coaching job and Gilbride would be fired the following season.

Gilbride wound up on Tom Coughlin’s staff in Jacksonville for the expansion Jaguars.  It was there that he would mentor an unknown quarterback by the name of Mark Brunell, who quickly became a Pro Bowler.  His work with the Jags landed him the head-coaching job in San Diego

However, the Chargers struggled under Gilbride, and amidst his second season in 1998, the year of the Ryan draft Leaf nightmare, he was fired after only six games.

He bounced around jobs with the Steelers and Bills, until old friend Tom Coughlin came calling, hiring him as quarterbacks’ coach for Coughlin’s new team, the New York Giants.  Gilbride was charged with molding rookie Eli Manning.  Then, the last week of the 2006 season, Coughling promoted Gilbride to offensive coordinator.

The following season would be a magical one for Gilbride and the Giants, who won the team’s first Super Bowl in 17 years.  However, the season after would end in heartbreak at home in the playoffs against the Eagles.

During the game, the Giants ran odd plays that included the famed “wildcat” formation, and even ran bulky but not swift Brandon Jacobs to the side as opposed to letting him bulldoze up the middle.

The Giants were not aggressive in any way on offense, which some blamed the absence of Plaxico Burress.  On the other hand, if the coordinator doesn’t even call plays that give other receivers a chance, there is no way to disprove it.

Déjà vu occurred when it seemed Gilbride’s play calling caused another defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, to depart for head coaching work.

Gilbride himself inquired about the Oakland Raiders head coaching position, but in what must seem as an insult to him, decided to remain with their interim head coach, Tom Cable.  Not for nothing, but it’s pretty sad when you can’t get a job with the Raiders.

This could be a make or break year for Gilbride.  Coughlin promoted him amidst rumors that he himself would be fired and was doing everything he could to hang onto his job.  If any other rumors surface, you can count on Coughlin pulling the trigger to save himself.


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