Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride returned to MetLife Stadium on Wednesday as the XFL revealed the names and logos of all eight teams ahead of their 2020 season.
Gilbride, of course, will serve as general manager and head coach of the New York Guardians — his first gig since being terminated by the Giants following two Super Bowl title victories.
But even though Gilbride’s head is currently in a different place, he’s kept up with the Giants and, specifically, quarterback Eli Manning.
Unlike the many who expect Manning’s career to end with a dud in 2019, Gilbride anticipates a complete resurgence thanks in large part to a revamped offensive line.
“The one thing that I’ve always stated is that if Eli Manning has a quality offensive line then he’ll be a successful quarterback,” Gilbride told the New York Post. “When we were successful and won those Super Bowls and were near the top of the league offensively, it’s usually when we had an effective offensive line that allowed him to do the things that he does best. Which is, get everybody in a good position, recognize what’s happening defensively, and throw the ball accurately the right person and then keep the defense off the field. He’s always done that when he had the sufficient protection.
“Now, people get upset ‘Well, he can’t do this’ and ‘He can’t do that.’ . . . He’s never — from the day he got there — solved problems with his feet. It’s always been with his brain and his arm. I think it looks like, and you never know until the season starts, but from what I can tell, It looks like they’ve shored up the offensive line and it looks like if that has happened, I expect him to have a good year.”
Still, Gilbride recognizes that if Manning & Co. struggle out of the gate, the two-time Super Bowl MVP could have his career unceremoniously ended on the national stage.
“It’s going to be up to Eli, and his teammates obviously, to play well enough for him to stay in that spot,” Gilbride said. “I have a suspicion that he’ll do just that, again, because he’s the competitor that he is, I can assure you that he’s not relinquishing that position very easily.”
By all accounts, Gilbride is spot on. Manning has done anything but go quietly into the night, revitalizing his arm strength and performing at a near-flawless clip this summer. It’s clear he’s determined to hang onto his post, but the rest of the team must also step up if they wish to keep him there.