COMMENTARY | Heading into the the final week of the regular season, the New York Giants' chances of making the postseason are very slim and a big reason for that is the inconsistency of the team's offense. But I'm not ready to throw offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride under the Big Blue bus.
Gilbride has been calling plays for the Giants for the last six seasons. Under his offensive guidance, New York has won a pair of Super Bowls and Eli Manning has evolved into one of the top quarterbacks in football. Furthermore, the Giants have scored at least 36 points in a game five times this season and are averaging 25.8 points per game entering week 17. That puts them on pace to finish in the top 10 in points scored for the fifth straight season. So what's the problem?
Critics of the Giants' OC -- and there are many of them -- point to his lack of creativity and predictable play-calling. Third-and-long draws and risky pass plays on third-and-short come to mind. I'll admit, there have been times when I scratch my head watching the Giants' offense in action. But dialing up successful plays in the National Football League is not as easy as pressing an "ask Madden" button.
A combination of factors have contributed to the team's offensive struggles this season, starting with the play of the quarterback. Manning hasn't thrown for 300 yards in any of his last eight games and has failed to reach 200 yards in three of them. That's not Gilbride's fault. Manning threw for a career-high 4,933 yards last season -- his third straight year with at least 4,000 passing yards -- in basically the same offensive scheme. Other factors to consider when assessing the Giants' offense are the shaky performance of the offensive line and health of key players, such as Hakeem Nicks, who never rounded into form after suffering a foot injury in the preseason.
Fans have a right to question or disagree with Gilbride's play-calling, but firing him would be taking the easy way out and it probably wouldn't solve anything. First of all, who would replace him? The more I think about it, the more I believe getting rid of Gilbride would be the wrong call.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. He proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @Pegcitysports.