Giant Issues? Eli Manning & The Giants Offense Have Outgrown Kevin Gilbride

Kel Dansby

The Giants offense has been a mess to begin the 2013 season. They looked anemic in the preseason and their lackluster performance has carried over into the regular season.

20130926-131944.jpgThe Giants offensive problems haven’t appeared over night and they won’t be solved as quickly either. The offense has been on a decline since Eli’s 4,900+ yard passing season. A season in which the Giants had the second-to-last ranked rush offense and won a Super Bowl. Manning and the Giants went through their usual mid-season slump and had to open up the playbook to overcome some of the teams other deficiencies. Even then, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride could hardly keep pace with his play calling. Eli Manning and the Giants consistently took the play clock down under :05. The playmaking of Victor Cruz and a healthy Hakeem Nicks made that offense special, not the play selection of Gilbride.

Gilbride’s play calling has been stale since after the Giants first Super Bowl victory with QB Eli Manning. That playbook hasn’t changed much since Gilbride was coaching in the 1980’s, but the NFL has.

The Giants still only run three checks at the line of scrimmage, second year QB Andrew Luck has a package of over 15. Peyton Manning has two checks built into every play call and most of their plays are run using the no huddle. Gilbride only uses the no huddle as a last resort when the game is out of reach or when the Giants are in the two minute drill. Some of Eli best work has been done in the no huddle and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.

Simply put, Gilbride has rode a wave of timely success and has never been forced to adapt to the changes in the game of football.

Back to the Giants’ offensive checks. Pop Warner defensive coordinators can easily scout Gilbride’s play calls.

I will break down all three & you can see them on display this weekend. (Even yell out the play before the snap to look cool around your friends)

1: Halfback ISO – Check to quick slant

This is a basic check that is built into almost every NFL playbook today. Brett Favre and Peyton Manning made this play what it is during the late 90s. An ISO play is called in the huddle and the quarterback will call “kill kill” at the line or give the hand signal to the WR alerting him of the change. Many times the other offensive weapons are unaware and run the ISO play as called. The QB pulls the ball immediately and throws the quick slant out to the designated receiver (WR usually has off coverage from the CB). This play is often ran on the right side to Hakeem Nicks & he’s taken it several times for big yardage.

2: 5 Wide Receiver screen w/ the HB as the outside wide out – Check to the fake screen slot WR fade

This play was ran to Ahmad Bradshaw at least once every other game the past few season & for some reason teams rarely pick it up. The RB lines up on the outside of slot WR Victor Cruz. Usually there’s a TE or another WR on the inside of Cruz for blocking purposes on the screen. During this check Cruz gets the signal and runs a wheel Route up the sideline instead of blocking. (Works well when the CB is in press and the Safety jumps the screen aggressively) Cruz has hit many teams with this play.

3. 21 Personnel ( Tight End/ Fullback/ Half back) ISO – Check to fake ISO fade

This play works as the description describes. The Giants fake the ISO in normal personnel and send the wide out on a fade on the outside. At times late in the game it is also run in 3 WR sets w/ Cruz running a seam route in the slot. This play has resulted in the amazing catches against cover two such as the Manningham catch in the Super Bowl a few years ago but it also results in blown routes & INTs such as Eli’s last pick against Carolina last week.

Those are the extent of the Giants audible/check packages at the line of scrimmage. Most are built into specific packages which is a dead give away of the play.

Kevin Gilbride is out of touch with today’s NFL. We see a first year coach in Chip Kelly bring over a fresh offensive scheme and lead the league in rushing through two games. Not saying that the Giants should go to any extremes but a fresh, hard working, and imaginative offensive coordinator is due in NY.

I’ve been one to raise the name David Cutcliff. He has done wonders with the Duke offense in college and has a great relationship with both Manning Brothers. His spread schemes have made one of the historically worst college football programs, Duke, a relevant program in the ACC.

The Giants won’t rush to fire or let go of anyone during the season, which I believe this staff has earned, but after the season they need to make another push to get a ring with a 32 year old franchise QB in Eli Manning.