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Let's talk about Kevin Gilbride

There were a few comments Tuesday about the play-calling of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride in Monday's 24-17 victory by our New York Giants over the Carolina Panthers.

If you were paying attention, you know I took umbrage to the criticism of Gilbride. That's not because I always agree with KG -- though I will defend him more often than many of you would like -- but because this was a largely meaningless pre-season game.

Face it, coaches are working mostly with different personnel in pre-season games than they will be during the regular season. And decisions are often made based on factors other than the score, or down and distance.

Let's talk a bit about Gilbride here. But, we are also going to set a ground rule. Say what you want about Gilbride when you comment on THIS post. But, leave him alone in terms of the rest of the pre-season games. Killing him for pre-season play calls is over the top. Save your indignation for the regular season. Please!

OK, so now that I have that out of the way let's have a -- hopefully rational -- discussion about the guy who spends NFL Sundays speaking into Eli Manning's ear.

There is an incredibly vocal minority -- and yes, you guys are a minority -- of Giants' fans who will kill Gilbride for just about everything. Every bad throw by Eli, every drive that doesn't result in points. Every penalty. Every sack. Every dropped pass. Every missed field goal (because we should have had a touchdown). Shoot, some of you probably would kill the guy for getting out of bed in the morning.

In all honesty, I believe the incredible hatred Gilbride generates is not justified.

I have defended Gilbride before, and I am sure I will end up doing it again. And again. and again.

This is part of what I wrote last season when the Giants were 6-1, and another blogger had called Gilbride 'delusional.'

Look at the big picture. The Giants are third in the league in yardage per game (378.9) and have the best running attack in the league (157.3 yards per game). The Giants have scored 191 points (27.3 per game). Among teams that have played seven games, only four have scored more (Arizona tops that list with 200 points).

How bad of a job can Gilbride actually be doing?

You might not think the Giants offense is exciting, but victories are definitely exciting. And the Giants are doing what they need to do on offense to win games.

They have a balanced attack other teams are envious of. They can run the ball effectively, using any of three backs. They can throw the ball effectively with short, intermediate and long passes to a variety of targets. They don't turn the ball over.

Gilbride has to get credit for these things.

Yes, there are times when things the Giants do on offense drive me crazy. But, we are Giants' fans. We have spent a lifetime of Sundays having this team drive us crazy. That concept wasn't invented by Gilbride. When Gilbride leaves, the next guy will drive us crazy, too. Bank on it.

I found it funny re-reading my defense of Gilbride when I saw that Steeler fans were killing their coordinator, Bruce Arians, and wishing he was more like Gilbride. Who won the Super Bowl again?

Sometimes, you have to get away from the emotion of the moment and, as I said last season, take a good look at that big picture. With the Giants, it is a pretty nice view.

The Giants have enjoyed tremendous success with Gilbride calling the plays the past two seasons. They won a Super Bowl in 2007, and an NFC East title last season.

More numbers.

They scored 427 points and totaled 338 first downs, both the second-highest totals in franchise history. They led the NFL with 2,518 yards rushing, and an average of 5.0 yards per carry. In 2008, the Giants gained 25 yards more per game than they did in the Super Bowl season of 2007.

If the offensive coordinator was a complete idiot, as some of you think he is, these things would not have happened. Depending on your opinion, Jon Gruden might have been stretching it the other night by calling Gilbride one of the best in the business. But, he is hardly incompetent.

The guy has been coaching in the NFL 20 years, and this is his fifth stint as an offensive coordinator. Obviously, Tom Coughlin isn't the only head coach who thinks KG knows what he is doing. Along the way, Gilbride has handled everything from the Run 'N Shoot to the Giants power attack.

Now, I know Gilbride has flaws. The offensive game plans sometimes leave me scratching my head, as does the seemingly glacial pace at which KG makes in-game adjustments. In the name of the balance the Giants always seek I sometimes think Gilbride also tends not to ride a play, or player, that is obviously working. Yes, I wanted to throttle him after the Philly debacle last season.

But, we aren't all that far removed from the days of John Hufnagel, and the disaster that was some of the play-calling of Jim Fassel toward the end of his tenure as Giants' head coach.

So, be careful what you wish for. And, please, save your bullets for the regular-season games.