Like their players, Kevin Gilbride, Perry Fewell struggling
How bad is it for offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during the Giants' 0-3 start? About as bad as it's been since he arrived in 2004, when Eli Manning was a rookie.
"No question,'' Gilbride said when I asked him Thursday. "We went through a tough time our first year here when we made the decision to part with Kurt Warner and go over to the Eli Manning era.''
And what about Perry Fewell, whose defense ranks near the bottom of the league in almost every major statistical category? Well, at least he's not going all rock bottom like Gilbride.
"We've had some tough stretches,'' Fewell said. "Right now we're not playing good team football, so it's tougher that way.''
These two men are struggling as badly as the players they're trying to put in the right positions on game day. If you're passing around the blame, Gilbride and Fewell are near the top of the list. Even if there are extenuating circumstances.
Whether it's failing to come up with the right game plan, making in-game adjustments or overcoming injuries, Gilbride and Fewell have been nearly as culpable as the players.
The numbers are embarrassing on both sides of the ball:
The Giants' offense is 20th, averaging 334.7 yards per game.
They've scored only 54 points, 27th in the NFL.
Manning already has a league-high eight interceptions.
The Giants are dead last in rushing, averaging only 44.3 yards a game and rendering play-action passing moot.
The defense is just as bad:
The 115 points allowed is the most in the NFL.
They've allowed 48-percent conversions on third down (28th).
They have only three sacks, tied with the Steelers for last.
And now they go to Kansas City to face the 3-0 Chiefs, who have been almost perfect. They haven't committed a turnover. The defense has allowed only 34 points and leads the NFL with 15 sacks.
The challenge is enormous for both coordinators. Gilbride's line has serious injury problems, as guard Chris Snee (hip) and center David Baas (neck) aren't likely to play. Poor blocking has victimized Manning, who has overcompensated with risky passes. Against Carolina, the run didn't work and Eli was a sitting duck, absorbing seven sacks in the 38-0 loss.
"We went in thinking we needed to be more balanced because of the turnovers,'' Gilbride said, "but that first half was probably about as low as you can be. We went to the two-minute offense, we moved the ball but still didn't put any points on the board.''
Maybe a change this week?
"You can [move the ball] with short passes, mix in some screens, which we've tried to do,'' Gilbride said. "Last week, we were overwhelmed, so that no matter what we tried to do, we couldn't get untracked.''
Fewell has been similarly frustrated, either by not dialing up the right calls or watching his players fail to execute. Last week, he tried blitzing early, but to little avail. Best-case scenario, the Giants get a good push from their four down linemen, the formula that worked so well when Fewell was the winning defensive coordinator in the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.
"Go back to work, that's what you have to do,'' he said. "This is a game of adversity, wins and losses. You stick to your guns, and go back to fundamentals.''
At least he's familiar with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, whom the Giants beat when he was with the 49ers in the 2011 NFC title game and again last year. "It does help, because you have some knowledge of the player,'' Fewell said. "You hope you can force him to make some bad decisions.''
Smith hasn't made any bad decisions this season. Another perfect day on Sunday, and the Giants' misery extends to 0-4.