On offense, after a very slow start, Kevin Gilbride has this unit functioning well. For a period between Q2 and Q3 of the Dallas game last week, the offense was operating at as high a caliber as we have witnessed in many years. What has happened to make the offense, which was stuck in neutral for the first 4 games, get moving the last three? Obviously there are many things going on but we think we have an answer.
I believe the reason why this offense is doing so well is because Gilbride is finding his groove.
Wait? I thought this site held Gilbride in various states of contempt?
Well, to be fair, I still do. I still think Kevin Gilbride is a meathead. I wish he'd use more play action, more TE in the red zone, more TE mid screens, more designed RB flares and screens, more Bradshaw in space, more ability to make INTRA and INTER game adjustments, less prevent offense when he gets a comfortable lead.... you get the idea.
But what I believe has happened is that we truly have our X back.
It is 2008 again and the Giants OC has found his "X" Wide Receiver. Yes, you can go back home again. Yes, Hakeem Nicks is Plaxico Burress Jr. He is the beast WR that will end up being a younger version of Plaxico Burress with his head screwed on right. That is a mighty lethal combination.
Nicks gets better every week. Hands the size of the state of North Carolina, moves after the catch just like Plax, a nose for the ball, toes that know the sideline better than Burress already, a knack for finding the end zone AND A SERIOUS ABILITY TO ROAST ANY TEAM THAT PUTS ONE DEFENDER ON HIM. When Gilbride had that same luxury in 2008, he could throw darts and it would work. Let's face it guys, without getting too complicated, if this Giants offense stays healthy there really is almost nothing it cannot do. You cannot load the box because that means Smith and/or Nicks will be on one on one. And if you give the Giants 6 or 7 men, Bradshaw has proven he can get the yardage. Add Boss and Manningham and it is a wealth of riches. Opposing defenses will have a weakness somewhere, and Eli Manning is mature enough and veteran enough now to be able to find it no matter where it is. (The only weakness I see at the moment is short yardage.) The summary is that Nicks solves Gilbride's problems. This is a polite way of saying that Gilbride never really adapted to life without a pure X, but now that he has it again, he can handle any defensive scheme he faces.
We asked Wonder, is this the same Gilbride 2008 offense? "Well, no, it is not as good because the OL is not nearly as good as it was 2 years ago," said Wonder. "But to your point about Nicks being the new X (replacing Burress), Nicks is terrific and is actually doing MORE than Burress could ever do."
I will counter that, to compensate for the weaker run blocking of the 2010 version of the OL, Ahmad Bradshaw is manufacturing many more yards on his own. His ability to cutback and take advantage of the vacancy on the backside generates great yardage. Bradshaw has demonstrated a consistent ability to turn a 1 yard loss into a 3-4 yard gain ON HIS OWN. Also, Andrews and Pascoe are rapidly getting integrated into blocking and protection schemes to assist the OL.
The offense has an aging OL. But O'Hara has come back and he'll benefit from the 2 weeks off. As long as Eli stops all the INTs and Bradshaw cuts down on the fumbles, this offense will have the answers. Gilbride has the X.