For as long as he coaches, Kevin Gilbride will be known as the coach who got socked up on the sidelines by Buddy Ryan.And for always being linked to the Raiders head coaching job in Al Davis' later years.Now, though, Gilbride is carving a new identity, one as an offensive mastermind as Eli Manning's offensive coordinator with the New York Giants."Coach Gilbride and I have a very close relationship," Manning said Thursday, as the Giants continued preparations for Sunday's NFC title game against the 49ers at Candlestick Park.
"When I first got here, he was the quarterbacks coach, so I sat in all the meetings with him. A lot of the plays we were running then, even though he wasn't the offensive coordinator, were his plays and stuff he knew very well. So I got to kind of learn from him, and hearing him directly and watching old film of the (Houston) Oilers and different things when they were running it. It's the only offense I've been in, it's what I know. We think the same way on a lot of things and certain looks. A lot of times he doesn't even need to finish his sentence, because I'm already on the same page. I feel very comfortable with him and telling him my thoughts and listening to him. It's a great relationship and we work well together."Manning is coming off a career-high 4,933-yard passing season, with 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and a passer rating of 92.9, the second-best of his eight-year career.Yes, as in any productive QB-OC relationship, there is mutual admiration at work."The most comforting thing is the fact that I think he's been through it with us, he knows what we're looking for, he understands based on coverage where we would like the ball to go," Gilbride said. "He's not going to be overwhelmed by what's going on. He's been through it enough times. We've had enough success with it that he plays very confidently. I don't think the situation overwhelms him and I think he has a very profound understanding of what we're trying to do offensively."Gilbride became the Giants offensive in 2007, after three years as the QB coach. As the old Oilers offensive coordinator, from 1990-94, he ran a version of the high-octane run-and-shoot offense."With Coach Gilbride, he wants to throw the ball, I think," Manning said. "He has a quarterback mentality. He also knows, he's going to be smart and if we're running it, we're going to continue to run it. It's kind of whatever is working. On Sundays if we're not running it really well and we're throwing it well, I'll just go up to him and say, 'Hey, they can't stop us throwing it, let's just keep throwing it.'"And he kind of gets a smile, I think that's what he likes to hear. He wants to throw it and he wants to be consistent and find completions, but he likes to get the ball downfield and hit some big plays."And about that 24-hour stomach bug that felled him on Wednesday, when he could not finish practice?
NEWS: Eli back at Giants practice
"Yeah, I'm 100 percent," Manning said. "I had a full practice today, I did everything, took every rep. I feel good. Yesterday I at least got to be here and getting into all the meetings and go through the walkthrough. I didn't take any live reps, but I know the game plan, I know what's going on. The arm felt good today, it felt fresh, and it was coming out good."About as good as Manning's relationship with Gilbride.