The XFL is a first-year pro football league with eight first-year teams. Building an entire franchise from scratch is a great challenge that every team in the XFL shares. Essentially what you have is eight expansion pro football teams emerging at the same time. A big key to building a new team in short order will be the coaching.
The New York Guardians have two members of their staff in Head Coach Kevin Gilbride and Running Backs Coach Jerald Ingram, who both know what it’s like to be a part of a first-year football franchise. It must seem like a lifetime ago to them, but back in 1995 Kevin Gilbride was the offensive coordinator of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars and Jerald Ingram was the teams running backs coach. Unlike expansion teams from the past, the Jaguars and the Panthers were entering into the early days of wide-open free agency in the NFL. Even still, a large part of Jacksonville and Carolina’s rosters were made up of players that couldn’t make the rest of the league’s rosters or players that were no longer valued by the existing NFL franchises. Jacksonville and Carolina had to sift through players that were basically discarded. Within two years, both expansion teams made the playoffs. The Jaguars actually got to the AFC Championship game in 1996 with a group of players that were career backups like Quarterback Mark Brunell or castoffs like Wide Receiver Jimmy Smith. Both Brunell and Smith were fringe NFL players that may have never have gotten an opportunity to shine without the NFL adding two more teams. Gilbride and Ingram’s experience back in 1995, of finding and coaching up players that were cast aside by the NFL, should prove useful in their quest to build a winning team in the New York Guardians.
With Guardians minicamp in full swing, let’s take an in-depth look at the entire New York Guardians coaching staff.
NEW YORK GUARDIANS HEAD COACH/GENERAL MANAGER KEVIN GILBRIDE
On Monday night, Eli Manning returns back into the saddle to lead the New York Giants offense one last time. It’s been a huge fall from grace for a once-proud Giants franchise. The Giants have the NFL’s worst record since 2017. It wasn’t too long ago that the Giants were shocking the world and winning two Superbowl Championships in a five-year span in 2007 and 2011. Both times defeating arguably the greatest football franchise of this generation, led by Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots. Kevin Gilbride was coordinating those Giants championship offenses with Eli Manning leading the way. There’s a reason why they call it a New York minute. By the end of his run with the Giants. Kevin Gilbride’s positive contributions were quickly dismissed and forgotten. The town known for its marketing labeled Gilbride as “Killdrive”. It wasn’t a perfect run for Gilbride, but it’s been a while since the Giants have had as good of an offense as they had during Kevin’s coaching stay there.
It’s been a unique journey for Kevin Gilbride from the very beginning. He started out as a quarterback and tight end at Southern Connecticut State, following in his father’s footsteps. Gilbride then made his way into the coaching ranks as a defensive coach. He coached on the defensive side of the ball for six straight years on the college level before becoming a head coach at his alma mater. At Southern Connecticut State, Gilbride compiled a 35-14-2 overall record.
During this period. Kevin Gilbride transitioned to coaching on the offensive side of the ball and would remain there for the rest of his coaching career. Coaching in the NFL from 1989 to 2014 as a quarterbacks coach, and mostly as an offensive coordinator, his coaching star first started to shine with the Houston Oilers back in the 90’s, coordinating the explosive run and shoot offense. His success with Houston and then Jacksonville landed him a head coaching job with the San Diego Chargers. His run there, however, was short-lived. Barely six games into his second year as Chargers coach, Gilbride was let go and replaced by current Houston Roughnecks coach June Jones. It was back to coordinating offenses for Gilbride as he moved on to the Steelers, Bills and then eventually spent ten years with the Giants.
Despite the way things ended for Kevin Gilbride with the Giants, he’s the perfect choice to lead a New York franchise in the XFL. It’s fitting that he is making his return to MetLife stadium. Gilbride knows the tri-state area really well and his diverse coaching experience will be an asset to the Guardians. Gilbride figures to call the offensive plays but he will have some accomplished coaches on his staff to help aid him in the process.
QUARTERBACKS COACH- GEORGE ALFORD (G.A.) MANGUS
Helping diversify Kevin Gilbride’s offense will be G.A. Mangus. A long-time offensive coach in the college ranks, Mangus has served as an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks, and tight ends coach and holds a wealth of successful experience at Division I, II and III levels. Mangus is a former player and coach under Steve Spurrier. The former Gators Quarterback has received accolades as a top assistant and top recruiter on the college level. Mangus was named one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters by ESPN, Rivals.com and by 247Sports. Mangus is a high energy coach who resembles his old coach Steve Spurrier in many ways. It’s not just the same type of visor they sport. Expect some Fun N Gun elements in the Guardians offense.
RUNNING BACKS COACH- JERALD INGRAM
Jerald Ingram reunites with Gilbride in New York again. Ingram has been an unsung hero in the coaching ranks for quite some time. A former fullback at Michigan. Ingram’s coached the RB position on the college and NFL level since the mid-’80s. Coaching some of the games best-running backs like Fred Taylor, Tiki Barber among others. Ingram was one of Tom Coughlin’s top lieutenants at Boston College, in Jacksonville and then with the Giants. Ingram won two Superbowls as the Giants RB coach. In 2008, using a committee backfield of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants led the NFL with 2,518 rushing yards. Ingram’s best work, however, came with Giants Running Back Tiki Barber. Ingram was tasked by Tom Coughlin with fixing Tiki’s chronic fumbling issues and that’s exactly what he did. The Guardians running backs got themselves a hell of a teacher in Ingram.
WIDE RECEIVERS COACH- MIKE MILLER
Miller has coached in the NFL, CFL, college football and all points in between. Miller has 13 years of NFL coaching experience in total. His best work came with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 when he coached Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston. All three receivers had 1,000-yard seasons in that year, a feat only accomplished just five times in NFL history. Miller figures to play a pivotal role in contributing to the Guardians passing attack.
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH- RONNIE VINKLAREK
Coach Vinklarek has coached offensive lines in the college ranks, in the NFL and in the CFL. He was most recently the offensive line coach at Rice University for 9 straight seasons. Vinklarek is a lifer, coaching offensive lines for over 3 decades. Some of Vinklarek’s best work came with the Buffalo Bills. Where he coached under then offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
TIGHT ENDS/QUALITY CONTROL/SPECIAL TEAMS- RAY RYCHLESKI
Unlike NFL staffs, XFL coaching staffs aren’t occupied by nearly 20 different assistants per team. A smaller staff in a startup league requires the type of coaches that can wear multiple hats and fill multiple roles. Veteran coach Ray Rychleski is ideally suited for that task. Throughout his coaching career, in college and in the pros, Rychleski has coached tight ends, h-backs, special teams, defensive lineman, defensive backs, linebackers, and offensive lineman. Rychleski’s coached in college, the CFL, was the special teams coordinator for the Colts, and earlier this year coached special teams for the Birmingham Iron in the AAF. Rychleski’s job title with the Guardians should be Assistant Everything.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR- JIM HERRMANN
Herrmann has a national championship at Michigan and a Superbowl championship with the Giants on his coaching resume. Yet another assistant on that same Giants staff as Kevin Gilbride here with the Guardians. Herrmann has made his bones coaching linebackers his whole career after starting out as one under legendary Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler. As defensive coordinator at Michigan, Herrmann won the Frank Broyles Award as the year’s top assistant college football coach. Herrmann coached linebackers in the NFL from 2006 to 2017 with the Jets, Giants, and Colts.
DEFENSIVE LINE COACH- CHARLES (C.J.) AH YOU
A former NFL draft pick who played defensive line for six seasons in the NFL, C.J. Ah You is fairly new to the coaching ranks. The former All-Big 12 Oklahoma Sooner started his coaching career on Bob Stoops staff in 2015. Ah You then coached the defensive line at Vanderbilt for three seasons under Commodores Head Coach Derek Mason. This is CJ’s first foray coaching in the pro ranks and he is surrounded by quality veteran coaches that can help him in his development.
LINEBACKERS COACH- KEVIN KELLY
The no-nonsense grizzled veteran college coach Kevin Kelly brings 37 years of coaching experience to the Guardians defensive staff. He’s been a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in the college ranks for several different universities over the years. Kelly had an eight-year stint as the head coach at Georgetown (2006-13). Kelly’s best year with the Hoyas came in 2011 when the team went 8-3 and he was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award.
DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH- CHRIS DISHMAN
The two-time former All-Pro Corner Chris Dishman played 13 years in the National Football League. After retiring, Dishman became a football coach. He started off by taking part in the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship program. Dishman has been paying his dues ever since trying to make his way up the coaching ranks. Dishman spent five seasons with the Chargers as an assistant defensive backs coach and most recently coached with the Baylor Bears. Dishman was an all-pro with the Oilers back when Coach Kevin Gilbride was the teams offensive coordinator.
DEFENSIVE QUALITY CONTROL/SPECIAL TEAMS- JEFF MCINERNEY
McInerney served as head football coach at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) from 2006 to 2013, compiling a record of 48–41. The former college linebacker coached in the college ranks for over three decades before coaching special teams and the defensive line for the San Antonio Commanders earlier this year in the AAF. Like Ray Rychleski on this staff, McInerney will assume several roles and assist the other assistants. His experience as a head coach, coordinator and position coach brings great value to the overall staff in his supporting role.