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Gilbride more important than you think

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Clark Judge of CBS Sportsline has a unique take on just how important offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been to the success of the New York Giants the past couple of seasons.

How come we don't hear more about Kevin Gilbride, the club's offensive coordinator?

He called the plays in the Giants' demolition of Dallas last weekend, a 35-14 waxing where they ran over, around and through the overmatched Cowboys, and he called the plays on the game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLII when New York stunned previously unbeaten New England.

More important, he called the plays in the 2006 season finale, a 34-28 defeat of Washington that saved Coughlin's job. Had the Giants lost that evening, they would've missed out on a wild-card spot, and Coughlin, in all likelihood, would have been fired.

But it didn't happen because Coughlin took the necessary steps to prevent it from happening. Days before the game, he promoted Gilbride to offensive coordinator in an act that was as shrewd as it was extraordinary.

Basically, what Coughlin's move told you was that if he had to win one game -- and he did -- he was going to do it with the people he trusted most. So he chose Gilbride.

Result: A critical victory, with Tiki Barber rushing for a franchise-record 234 yards and three touchdowns to send the Giants to the playoffs. Coughlin kept his job, the Giants went on to win a Super Bowl and Eli Manning became the elite quarterback the club envisioned.

In short, everyone lived happily ever after.

You can make the argument that none of that would've been possible without Gilbride ... and I will. Because if Coughlin doesn't make the move to Gilbride prior to the Washington game he and his staff are history -- fired before Coughlin can hire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo away from Philadelphia; fired before Coughlin can hire quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer to assist in the tutoring of Manning; fired before Coughlin can run the table in the 2007 playoffs.

Basically, if he doesn't go to Gilbride in December 2006, everything you see now doesn't happen. So let me ask this again: Why doesn't Kevin Gilbride get more attention for helping to make it all possible?

You know I agree with Judge that the criticism the unappreciated Gilbride gets isn't warranted, but I had never thought about it that way.

Fact is, no one in football history has dialed up the correct play call on every single snap. You can dissect any game and point out a half-dozen or more plays that weren't the right ones for the situation.

Gilbride's overall philosophy, though, is a big reason for the success of the Giants offense. Teams all around the NFL are envious of the balance the Giants have between the run and the pass, and their ability to spread the workload between several runners and receivers.

Gilbride deserves a 'kudos' for that.

  • ESPN's Matt Mosley handed out his mid-season NFC East awards Wednesday. As you might expect, the Giants did pretty well. Brandon Jacobs was Halfway Offensive Player of the Year (Clinton Portis was MVP), Justin Tuck earned the defensive honor and Domenik Hixon was best under-the-radar player.
  • Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is not conceding the division to the Giants just yet.
  • The Oakland Raiders released cornerback DeAngelo Hall Wednesday. You think maybe Gibril Wilson regrets leaving the Super Bowl champions to play for the embarrassment that is the 2-6 Raiders? Listen to his reaction to Hall's release.

“I’ve never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players. That’s strange to me. It’s almost like we’re throwing in the towel.”

Ah, Gibril. Maybe now you understand how big of a mistake you made.