Jim Mancari, ContributorGiants’ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride knows that just because the Carolina Panthers’ secondary may be a little banged up, that doesn’t mean Sunday’s matchup will be an automatic victory.
That’s because the Giants have struggled to an 0-2 start out of the gate, with turnovers plaguing what the team has been able to muster offensively.
The focus for Big Blue has been to try to establish a running attack, but now that Carolina will be shorthanded in the secondary, hopefully the Giants will try to exploit their opponent’s weakness.
Gilbride still wants to see improvements in the running game, even though injuries to James Dockery, Quintin Mikell, D.J. Moore, Josh Norman and Josh Thomas in Carolina’s secondary may make it tough to stop the Giants’ passing attack.
“You’ve got to play the game as it comes, as it unfolds, and if you’re not doing something very well, then you’ve got to try to take advantage of the thing that is a matchup maybe in your favor,” Gilbride said. “We’re definitely going to make an effort to run. We’re definitely going to do whatever we can to be as balanced as we can, but most importantly of all, we’ll try to win the game.”
If the Giants’ passing game can be in sync, it actually can set up a strong rushing attack as well, since the Panthers will be so focused on defending the pass. David Wilson is coming off a week in which he carried the ball just seven times. Of course, his two opening week fumbles were unacceptable, but right now, he’s the guy that needs to be getting 20-25 touches per game.
“I think every running back is a little different and you’ve got to try to find the niche for him (Wilson) and the things that he can do well,” Gilbride said. “We lost Andre (Brown), which would have been a guy that would have complemented David, and now you’re trying to find somebody else that can complement him and then allow him to do the things that he does most easily or most successfully. But in order for that to happen, he’s got to make the right decisions, the line has got to block better, the tight ends have got to block better, it’s got to be called at the right time.”
Certainly the poor offensive line play has been a factor in the Giants lack of a ground attack, which is also a reason Wilson has not gotten the chance to run the ball as much.
“The only thing I care about is: are we moving the ball?” Gilbride said. “If he’s (Wilson) running and making yardage, then he’ll get it. If he’s not, then somebody else will get a chance to carry it or we’ll be throwing it.”
Even though the secondary may be wide open for the Giants to go to work, the passing game can only be effective if Eli Manning is completing passes to guys wearing the same uniform as him. His seven interceptions lead the NFL through two weeks, but in addition to making some poor decisions, he’s really just had some bad luck.
“The one that got kicked up in the air was kind of reminiscent of what happened the week before with the two screen passes,” Gilbride said. “It’s hard enough to win when you’re not helping and aiding the enemy and so we’ve got to cut down on those things and certainly getting the running game better will improve the odds of us doing that.”
But even with all the turnovers, Gilbride acknowledged that this team has plenty more to be worried about than Eli Manning.
“If ever there’s a guy that has his feet firmly on the ground and seems to be able to handle the vicissitudes of the game and life, it’s that guy (Manning),” Gilbride said. “He’s about as stable as you can go. Does it bother him? It’s killing him. If you get too many, does it get to a point where it affects and detracts from your confidence? There’s no question. I don’t care who you are. It does. But if there’s ever a guy that you’re not going to worry about or will take a long time before that happens, it’s him.”
For what it’s worth, “vicissitudes” are changes of circumstances or fortunes, typically those that are unwelcome and unpleasant.
Let’s hope Gilbride spent as much time on this week’s offensive game plan as he has in studying the dictionary.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.