EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have to bounce back from his worst professional season without offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
Gilbride announced his retirement on Thursday.
“I’m really sad to see him retire. He has been with me from Day 1 as my quarterbacks coach and then my coordinator,” Manning said. “He really taught me everything I needed to learn to become an NFL quarterback. We’ve had so much success together, obviously winning our two Super Bowls. His offenses have had great success in this league for many, many years.”
Gilbride was the quarterbacks coach in his first three seasons with the Giants, helping in Manning’s development. Manning praised Gilbride for his expertise and teaching skills.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Kevin,” Manning said. “He’s been a great coach and great friend over these 10 years, and I’m definitely going miss him on the field and in the meeting rooms.”
Gilbride’s return was far from a sure thing after the Giants finished 7-9, missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Co-owner John Mara said during his season-ending press conference that the team had to find a way to fix its “broken” offense. Manning threw a career-high 27 interceptions — setting a dubious franchise record — in 2013.
The 62-year-old Gilbride, a veteran of 39 years in coaching, said he wants to devote more time to his family.
“It’s hard to say, ‘It’s time,'” Gilbride said. “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.”
Gilbride spent the past decade with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls, but was under pressure this season for New York’s inconsistent performance on offense.
With injuries to the offensive line and at running back, the Giants scored 294 points, the lowest total of the Tom Coughlin era. They finished 28th in the NFL in total yards (307.5 a game), 29th in yards rushing per game (83.3) and 30th in yards per carry (3.5). Eli Manning threw a career-high and franchise-record 27 interceptions.
New York lost its first six games.
“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.”
Gilbride was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 1997-98, going 6-16 before being fired six games into the ’98 season.
He also was an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers, Jacksonville Jaguars (under Coughlin), Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills before joining the Giants.
“Kevin is known for his expertise in the pass game,” Coughlin said. “But it’s important to recognize that he is outstanding at devising protections for some of the complex issues we face today from the standpoint of keeping the quarterback on his feet.”
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