Giants offensive coordinator has more questions than answers
By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
June 15, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Forget about Eli Manning, Kevin Gilbride says he's the one feeling the pressure to make the New York Giants' offense work.
That didn't stop Gilbride from laughing when he was asked about what concerned him heading into his first full season as the Giants offensive coordinator.
Left tackle. Halfback without the retired Tiki Barber. Fullback with Jim Finn out for the season following shoulder surgery. Two banged up veteran receivers in Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress. The continuing saga of Manning's development at quarterback.
Gilbride had a lot of concerns and not a lot of answers Friday as the Giants wrapped up a three-day mandatory minicamp.
A little more than five weeks from now, training camp will open at the University at Albany.
"I don't know what we are going to do because it is all predicated on our players -- who is going to step up and play," Gilbride said. "Our best 11, does it have a fullback, a tight end and two wide outs, or does it have three wide outs, or two tight ends. I don't know."
Gilbride actually does have some ideas.
The left tackle spot, for now, belongs to David Diehl. He started there in the first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia, and he seemingly was penciled in as starter after Luke Petitgout was released.
The Giants hope that Guy Whimper, a fourth-round draft choice in 2006 can challenge at left tackle, which would allow Diehl to play left guard. But that would be asking a lot of second-year player who has not seen much action.
"But right now, David is way ahead," Gilbride said. "We are hoping that Guy catches up and gives us some options."
Gilbride, who replaced John Hufnagel as the coordinator late last season and was then given the job full time, will have a new backfield.
Barber, the Giants' career leading rusher, retired after last season, and Finn underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Brandon Jacobs, the bruising 6-foot-4, 264-pound halfback, will replace Barber. Reuben Droughns, another big back at 220 pounds, will back him up.
"With the different backs pounding it, we hope we'll get a different response from the defense, which will allow us to do different things," Gilbride said, adding his biggest concern was whether Jacobs could remain healthy with his demolition-derby running style.
While Finn did not produce a lot statistically, some of the team's best running plays are with a fullback on the field.
Free agent Robert Douglas is being tried at fullback, and there are scenarios in which Droughns can be used there, even though he doesn't like the position.
If neither works out and the Giants can't sign a fullback, they would be forced to either use two tight ends or play tight end Mike Matthews, a good blocker, as an H-back.
Toomer, who is coming off knee surgery, and Burress, who had ankle surgery, were not on the field much in the offseason and did not get a chance to run any of the new plays.
"I am definitely worried, no question," Gilbride said. "They have been in the meetings for the most part and been exposed to some of the changes, but listening and doing are two different things."
Gilbride said their absence in the minicamp forced Manning to work with a lot of young receivers. Many times they were not on the same page. It made for bad plays that made Manning look lousy at times.
Still, Gilbride believes Manning can be a very good quarterback.
"It's not like you don't see glimpses of it, you do," Gilbride said. "There are some performances that are as good as anybody. We just need to see the consistency and the ability to stay away from that bad play."
Manning isn't worried about there being any more pressure on him with Barber gone. He said he has done all the work and is ready to go.
"I am looking forward to the season," he said. "I am excited about the players we have and the commitment they made. It's more excitement than pressure."
Call em as I see em!