By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ With the offense coming off a shutout last weekend and two members of the O-line looking very doubtful for Kansas City on Sunday, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is facing a major challenge.
The long-time coordinator needs a game plan against the Chiefs (3-0) to slow down the NFL’s leader in sacks (Justin Houston) and the league’s No. 2 defense in terms of points allowed.
The problem is the Giants (0-3) were dominated in a 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers last weekend. The offense gained 150 yards and allowed Eli Manning to be sacked seven times.
It gets worse. Right guard Chris Snee (hip) and center David Baas (neck) have not practiced this week, so the line is makeshift at best. Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe probably will start at left tackle and guard, respectively, but the rest of the line could have Jim Cordle at center, James Brewer at right guard and rookie Justin Pugh at right tackle.
Cordle has never started a game in three years. Brewer has one start and Pugh three.
The only chance the lineup would change would be if veteran David Diehl is cleared to play. He had thumb surgery six weeks ago and only started practicing this week. Playing against the Chiefs might be pushing it.
“We’re working like crazy and they are, too, so you’re just trying to advance them along as rapidly as you can, and that you hopefully expedited the process that will advance at a point where we go out and play well,” Gilbride said of his line. “I expect them to play well. I expect them to do well. They’re working at it and we have confidence in their athleticism. It’s just a matter of how fast you can get them acclimated to the speed with which they’re going to be facing the opposition on Sunday, which is significant.”
One thing that might help the Giants is a familiarity with Bob Sutton’s defensive ideas. Before he took over the Chiefs’ defense, he was the coordinator with the Jets.
Gilbride has told his linemen to expect overload blitzes, where the defense overloads one side and them brings the blitz from the other.
Gilbride is familiar with tough times with the Giants. He was the quarterbacks coach in 2004 when the team decided to let Manning take over from Kurt Warner. It wasn’t pretty right away, but the move led the Giants to Super Bowl titles after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The quarterback spot isn’t in transition now. It’s the line and the running backs after the decision to release Ahmad Bradshaw and turn things over to second-year pro David Wilson, a first-round draft pick.
“You’re going through some growing pains,” Gilbride said. “It’s never pleasant, but the good thing is we’re working at it and I think no one has quit and they’ve hung together. They’re doing all of those things right and you hope it pays off.”
The offense was supposed to be the strength of the team, and it played well in the opening two games against Dallas and Denver. The performance last week had many scratching their heads.
Beatty said Cordle and Brewer have been around the Giants long enough to know what to do.
“This is a big opportunity for them to show that they can be starters in the National Football League,” Beatty said. “It’s not a bad thing for them that they are out there playing. This is what they want. I know they want to play and be out there. This is an opportunity we have to take advantage of.”
Gilbride said he made a mistake against the Panthers trying to be balanced early. It didn’t work and the Giants were more successful running a two-minute offense, using quick passes and trap plays.
“This week you have to say, what can we do? “ Gilbride said. “That’s part of our jobs as coaches. We have to challenge them to improve their technique, improve their knowledge and scheme, but it’s up to us to try to put them in positions where they have a chance to be successful. That’s what you’re constantly doing. Are you adjusting? Yes, no question. “
NOTES: Besides Snee and Baas, starting CB Corey Webster, LB Jacquain Williams and slot CB Terrell Thomas did not practice for a second straight day. Of the three, Thomas is most likely to play. … Coach Tom Coughlin does not know if new FB John Conner will be ready to take on a full load Sunday. If not, expect tight end Bear Pascoe to be the H-back.
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