Kevin Gilbride and the Giants' Running Game:
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: It's Back to the Old Drawing Board With Big Blue's Running Game. The Super Genius Was at it Again. Coach Gilbride Led Them Away from Daylight and LEFT Them in the Dark.
The next time a hot looking mechanical female rabbit blows up in your backyard, a guy named Mud will soon appear introducing himself as the cause. A wise ol' Wabbit once reminded us, "...remember kids, Mud spelled backwards, is DUM!"
The New York Football Giants' offensive coordinator is the Wile E. Coyote of the NFL. They are both egomaniacs and both are super smart; too smart for their own good. One is engaged in a fruitless and constant chase for some road-runner or rabbit. While the other is in constant search of the perfect pass play at the expense of common sense. At the same time, they're the genesis of some of the most insidious yet befuddling schemes ever hatched from the minds of an idiot. One uses ACME products to help facilitate his cunning yet disastrously humorous failures, as the other nefariously calls running plays for the New York Giants that sometimes work as well as those wacky overly complicated ACME products do.
He shows up and says he's not trying to sell us anything nor is he working his way through college. He's simply someone of superior intellect with a pressure cooker who wants to rip our hearts out, stew it along with the Giants' running game, add diced celery, onions, carrots, and eat it. So the next time someone unfolds a portable door on your front porch, rings the bell, and starts off by saying, "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is
Yes; This is about Kevin Gilbride and the Running Game - Again. If you're tired of hearing about it, I'm equally tired complaining about it. But I need serious help grasping what Kevin Gilbride was trying to achieve Sunday night in Green Bay. Because what he designed was either a work of genius with a hitch, or a serious failure of epic proportion on his part. I've done a lot of kidding but you'll see I'm really trying to understand.
First - Eli, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and the Defense were great Sunday. As the passing game goes, Kevin Gilbride deserves his share of credit for their success. And..., we won! But once I'm done you'll see I'm not being nit-picky; nor am am I thrill-seeking negativity. The following are just facts supported throughout DO IT FOR THE DUKE. So with that out of the way, let's get on with this.
The Packers made little effort to run the ball. Aaron Rodgers was their leading rusher with sixty-six yards on seven carries. Yet, due to Aaron Rodgers' ground efforts, the Packers out-rushed the Giants. The Packers also held a slight lead in time-of-possession. Additionally, Green Bay ran-off more plays from scrimmage that the Giants; seventy-three versus sixty-one.
Now - the Giants rushed the ball twenty-seven times versus twenty-three for Green Bay. Yet due to Aaron Rodgers mentioned above, the Packers out-rushed the Giants 147 yards versus 95 yards for Big Blue. Twenty-seven rushing attempts by the Giants was only six less pass attempts by Eli. As far as the number of rushing attempts and balance of plays, I'm content. No issues there. As a matter of fact, I commend Kevin Gilbride for sticking with the run all game long. He rushed the ball twelve times in the first half, and eleven more times in the second half. Even thought the Packers defended the run very well, and held the Giants to a 3.5 yards-per-rush average, Gilbride stayed with it. There was a time he would have abandoned the run all-together. So far I'm cool on all counts.
Here now is everything wrong with Kevin Gilbride's plan Sunday. It has long been established, with new Center David Baas, there has been absolutely no running game up the middle to speak of. The left side of the Offensive Line with Kevin Boothe and David Diehl only has slightly better results. Although, they have run outside David Diehl at Right Tackle with more success that between the Guard. Rushing didn't improve until Baas was forced to miss games and Boothe played Center, and Mitch Petrus played Guard. With them in the game, the middle opened to the run. Then the Giants reinserted Baas at Center again once he was cleared to play. On the other side of the Offensive Line, the Giants have run with great effectiveness behind and between Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie all season long. There has been even more Daylight outside Right Tackle Kareem McKenzie.
The Atlanta Falcons game was the epitome of this season long trend. The following stats were reasons for me to begrudgingly give Coach Gilbride a pat on the back after a season long beef regarding everything being discussed here-in. The main issues I've had have been with Gilbride's play selection. All season he's insisted on running up the middle and left where there were rarely holes to be found while knowing full well the Daylight was shining on the other side. Then against the Jets and Cowboys, Gilbride opened up the gates and let the boys run right.
In playoff game one versus Atlanta....
* The Giants rushed LEFT nine times for thirty-one yards. 3.4 average gain.
* The Giants rushed UP THE MIDDLE eight times for thirty-one yards. 3.4 average gain.
* The Giants rushed RIGHT thirteen times for one hundred-one yards. 7.8 average gain.
Of the Giants' running plays that went for fives yards or more versus ATL, here is your break down:
* LEFT - Three Plays ~ eight yards; eight yards; fourteen yards.
* MIDDLE - Two Plays ~ ten yards; fifteen yards.
* RIGHT - Four Plays ~ thirty four yards; thirty yards; seven yards; nine yards. And they didn't need any help from Center.
To reiterate, the Giants have done their best running off Right Guard and Right Tackle all season long. Kareem McKenzie in particular is having a tremendous season. So this is what Kevin Gilbride chose to do this last Sunday:
*LEFT - Thirteen Plays ~ for net fifty-four yards. Three plays combined for -9 yards. In the first half, Ahmad Bradshaw started left, then changed course and went *right for +23 yards; setting up Eli's Hail Mary pass. Ahmad Bradshaw broke another +24 yard gain running off Left Tackle. And on the last N.Y. touchdown of the game, Brandon Jacobs once again started a play running left, then turned back *right for a fourteen yard touchdown run.
*MIDDLE - Six Plays ~ for fifteen yards, and one No Gain. Two plays went for five yards; tops.
*RIGHT - THREE PLAYS! One play negated by a Holding penalty. Two plays for negative yardage. Only one gain for +4 yards.
For fifty seven minutes of this game, I wanted to reach into the TV and strangle Gilbride. Ahmad Bradshaw's +24 yard run just before the second half was successful by his own doing. The play was designed left and Bradshaw busted it back. That was not counter-motion. Bradshaw reversed field.
Then in the third period it started to dawn on me. I saw this before. Mike Ditka used to do this all the time with the Bears. He'd pound the ball incessantly. Then when he lulled you in, he went over the top to Willie Gault. I started thinking, maybe Gilbride was waiting till the end of the game to spring someone off the right side to seal the deal. And for as long as the Giants were leading, I was a) - willing to let his plan play out and see, and b) - willing to give Kevin Gilbride the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't have continued that course of action if the Giants were trailing. If that were the case, I feel he would have changed sides.
Brandon Jacobs did just that; he popped one off the right side to put the nail in Green Bay's coffin. And I'm willing to give Kevin Gilbride the benefit of the doubt again, and say that last touchdown play was designed to be a counter-motion play. I know Gilbride knew our strength was running right and maybe he was trying to set Green Bay up by getting them to over pursue. I'm willing to go with that. But Gilbride really makes you scratch your head.
If I do not give him the benefit of the doubt in thinking that was his plan all along, the only conclusion I can come up with as a result of his game plan is that he's a complete idiot when it comes to the running game; of which I have no problem saying. But if he was indeed trying to bait the Packers all game for something in the fourth quarter; and for as long as he was doing this with a lead; and I'll even say maybe he was looking towards next Sunday and trying to get the Left Side up to snuff, then I'll be glad to call his plan for what it was - ballsy. After all, you have to have a lot of footballs to try some of the stunts Wile E. Coyote attempts in trying to capture a little bite to eat.
"Oh well, some people just have to learn the hard way." - quote, Wile E. Coyote.
But having said all that, you decide now. I said my piece.