The New York Giants finished the 2013 season ranked 28th in the league in total offense. Eli Manning had perhaps his worst season as a pro in throwing just 18 touchdowns with 27 interceptions.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride announced his retirement at the end of the season but says the root of the Giants’ issues last season all start along the offensive line.
In an interview with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio, Gilbride said the struggles of the offensive line put the Giants’ behind the eight ball from the start.
“I would say the offensive line, first and foremost, has to be addressed,” Gilbride said. “…I think they need another significant upgrade in the O-line and certainly some added depth.”
Manning was sacked 39 times and posted a career-worst 69.4 passer rating. Gilbride said he saw improvement from Justin Pugh throughout the season but the line as whole couldn’t perform at a level to allow the offense to perform.
“It just made it impossible for our quarterback to function,” Gilbride said. “(Manning)’s a guy where if you give him enough time, he’s always going to be throwing the ball to the right person, he’s going to know what you’re doing defensively, he’s going to see through your disguises, he’s going to be an accurate passer. But he’s not a scrambler and you’ve got to give him some help. And if you give him some help he’s proven that he can win a championship for you.”
Gilbride said the Giants changed their approach several times throughout the season to find a solution that would allow their offense to move the football. However, defenses were able to adjust as well and New York just didn’t have the ability to succeed with the deficiencies up front.
“I think philosophically, we modified substantially what we normally do,” Gilbride said. “We’ve been kind of a dymanic, explosive, throw-the-ball-down-the-field (offense), let your guys do a lot of vertical read-type of stretch principles and we had to abandon those. Those are the things that we’ve done very well that allowed us to be in the Top 10 offensively for a long time. You can’t do it because your quarterback would be on his back while you’re waiting for those things to happen.
“So we became much more conservative, much more three-strep oriented – which was good for a while, but they’re smart on that side of the ball and they identified fairly quickly what your weaknesses are, and they realized what your adjustments had been, so they take those things away. And when we had to expand what we wanted to do that’s when our shortcomings manifested themselves. But between going to a lot more three-step passes, moving the pocket, play-action where we didn’t just go to our traditional drop back five steps, seven-step drop back, (that) was probably the main modifications that we made.”
It’s a pretty damning critique of the Giants’ personnel up front levied by Gilbride. Whoever takes over in the offensive coordinator role next season will have a mess to clean up if the Giants can’t add talent to their offensive line this offseason.