Just days after Giants COO John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese vowed that there would be changes to the football operations, the first domino fell into place.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who has been with the Giants for 10 seasons, announced his retirement today. The move brings to an end a nearly 40-year coaching career.
“It’s hard to say, ‘It’s time,’” Gilbride said in a statement released by the team announcing the move. “To finally do it, it’s a very unnatural feeling. I’ve been telling my wife (Debbie) for years I was going to do it. She moved back to Rhode Island, so I’ve been by myself in the hotel for three or four years. I knew this was it and I was going to do it. I finally pulled the trigger. But it’s difficult.”
The 62-year old Gilbride was a key architect of the Giants two Super Bowl championships under head coach Tom Coughlin. Gilbride, who replaced John Hufnagel as the team’s offensive coordinator in the final game of the 2006 season, also contributed to five playoff berths and three NFC East championships.
“Since Tom elevated Kevin to the role of offensive coordinator, we have added two more Lombardi Trophies to our display case,” Giants chairman and executive vice president Steve Tisch said.
“For that, and Kevin’s tremendous commitment and dedication to his craft and this organization, we will always be grateful.”
Things weren’t always so bad under Gilbride’s tenure. In 2012, they scored 429 points, the second-highest total in franchise history. That season was also the fifth in the 88-year history of the franchise in which the Giants scored more than 400 points; and the third such occurrence under Gilbride’s watch 2008 (427) and 2009 (402).
However things fell apart for the offense this year, largely due to injuries that ravished the offensive line and the running backs. As a result, the Giants scored 294 points, the lowest total of the Coughlin/Gilbride era.
They finished 28th in the NFL in total yards (307.5 a game), 29th in rushing yards per game (83.3) and 30th in yards per carry (3.5), which is why almost immediately after the Giants 2013 season ended, speculation began that Gilbride might be on the hot seat.
That speculation was further fueled when team COO John Mara described the offense as being “broken” and saying, “we need to fix it.”
Rather than stick around to fix it, Gilbride is moving on.
“It is difficult to walk away after a season like that, no question,” Gilbride said. “You made the adjustments and you continue to modify and adapt and do the things you had to do to give your guys a chance.
“But all of the success we’ve had offensively through the last five or six years, we just weren’t able to get it done this year with all of the things that took place. But the thing we never did, we never used it as an excuse or explanation. We just continued to battle through and to win seven of our last 10 the way we did, I was very proud of our coaches and players.”