New York Giants fans love to hate offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. The most popular nickname for the veteran coach is 'KillDrive,' and one of the favorite pastimes of Giants fans is forever criticizing Gilbride's play-calling.
Yet, season after season the Giants rank among the league's best offenses. This season quarterback Eli Manning passed for a franchise record 4,933 yards and the Giants finished fourth in the NFL in yards per game (404.7) and ninth in the league in scoring (24.6 points per game).
Former Giants wide receiver and current NFL analyst Amani Toomer, who played for the Giants when Gilbride was quarterbacks coach and later promoted to offensive coordinator, called Gilbride's complicated passing attack "unstoppable" when it is done correctly.
"I think he's great. Some of the stuff that he runs, the plays, the concepts that he came up with -- it's really unstoppable," Toomer said by phone Wednesday morning. "The problem is that you have to have a group of receivers that really not only understand what he's trying to do, but really can read defenses well. If they don't understand what's going on and they can't read what's going on really well then it looks disheveled."
The Giants, of course, have the dynamic duo of Victor Cruz (a franchise record 1,536 yards receiving this season) and Hakeem Nicks (1,192 yards receiving), along with Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard.
Manning has spent his entire career with Gilbride on the Giants sideline and says the pair "think the same way on a lot of things."
"Coach Gilbride and I have a very close relationship. When I first got here, he was the quarterbacks coach, so I sat in all the meetings with him. A lot of the plays we were running then, even though he wasn't the offensive coordinator, were his plays and stuff he knew very well. So I got to kind of learn from him, and hearing him directly and watching old film of the Oilers and different things when they were running it. It's the only offense I've been in, it's what I know," Manning said. "We think the same way on a lot of things and certain looks. A lot of times he doesn't even need to finish his sentence, because I'm already on the same page. I feel very comfortable with him and telling him my thoughts and listening to him. It's a great relationship and we work well together."
Will the praise from guys like Manning and Toomer, and the fact that Gilbride is calling plays in his second Super Bowl with the most prolific passing attack in Giants history, end the criticisms of his work from the fan base? Maybe. At least until the first time he sends in a questionable play call.