One of Johnson’s disciples, former Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, is now the defensive coordinator for the Saints – the Giants opponent this weekend.
Gilbride said that he's seen this type of defense at least twice a year during his coaching tenure.
“I went against that (defense) when I was with other teams before I even came here,” he said. “It’s been a lot, but it doesn’t make it any easier. They do a great job at disguising, that’s what it is.”
Spagnuolo has tweaked the defensive scheme a little bit, but Gilbride acknowledged just how similar it is to Johnson’s defense in Philadelphia.
“It’s well designed and well thought out,” Gilbride said. “They’re about 50-50 pressure/dropping back to two-high. It’s a well thought out, well conceived approach to defensive football.”
The Saints are usually known as a team that if all offense and no defense. The defense struggled early on this season, but it has played well in recent weeks, which has kept New Orleans alive in the wild card race.
Gilbride said he has seen an improvement in the Saints’ defense and that the unit is a whole is playing hard.
“It’s one you have to be right on your toes to see where the pressure is coming from and then they’ll play just enough man or two-high that if you keep everybody in to protect against the blitz, you’re sitting there with seven guys blocking and they have eight guys dropping defensively,” he said. “It’s a good scheme. There’s a reason why it’s valued how it is.”
With Drew Brees on the other side of the ball, the Giants’ offense will have to put up a good number of points to win this game. Recently, the team has been gaining plenty of yards but either settling for field goals or being hindered by penalties.
Gilbride said he was pleased with the overall performance of the offense on Monday night, especially the running game led by Ahmad Bradshaw. He said though that the team needs more production point-wise in trying to defeat the Saints.
Hopefully, Gilbride’s familiarity with the defensive scheme will allow him to maximize the effectiveness of his play calls in order to lead Big Blue to a much-needed win.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.