Gilbride is familiar with the Steelers’ defense from his days as the offensive coordinator for the Houston Oilers in the early 1990s.
“It’s a well-designed scheme,” Gilbride said. “They do a great job with seeing how you’re protecting, and then they attack very intelligently. But then they mix it up. They have a very good complimentary package.”
Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has had the luxury of relying on veteran leadership each year. Gilbride said that having these veterans has allowed the unit to be successful.
“There’s a reason they’ve been good for a long time,” he said. “It allows them to have a lot more flexibility. They’re able to adapt from week-to-week based upon your protection schemes. So there’s no question that they’ve utilized the cumulative football intelligence that they have. They do a nice job.”
In the past seven years, either the Steelers or the Giants have won the Super Bowl in four of those seasons. The play of the quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, has contributed to their team’s success.
“Their styles are different, but they’re both very talented players,” Gilbride said. Speaking to our guy, he’s a hard working guy, he’s an intelligent guy. I’ve always asked a lot of the quarterbacks to as much as they can handle, and he can handle a lot. I think he does a great job of deciphering what’s going on and being able to get our guys either in a good run or a good pass or adjust the protection accordingly.”
Of course, Manning was the No. 1 overall selection in 2004, while the Steelers drafted Big Ben at No. 11.
“I think Ben is physical, very unique with his size and his arm strength,” Gilbride said. “He’s able to keep plays alive just because he’s hard to bring down.”
The Steelers’ secondary has a reputation for being aggressive, and Gilbride expects that the Giants’ receivers will be challenged at the line of scrimmage.
“These guys are very, very physical,” Gilbride said. “They do a great job of getting up in your face and trying to slow you down from getting off the line of scrimmage. So you have to do a god job technically getting off. Obviously, the longer it takes, the more time the quarterback is holding the ball and the more effective the pass rush is.”
The Steelers’ defense is currently ranked second overall in total defense at 271.1 yards allowed per game. This Sunday’s game will be a real test for the Giants.
“We’ll have our hands full,” Gilbride said. “They do a nice job.”
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.