Seems like the question of the week is, ‘Would the Giants have beaten the Eagles with a healthy Plaxico Burress on the team?’
I'm not sure that’s a guarantee but I will say this, there's no question he's a huge threat for any defense and brings stability to the Giants passing game.
Without him, we lose a playmaker; and defenses turn their focus on other weapons, adding more stress on the running game. It’s no secret that in the last two years, the threat posed by Plax contributed to the huge success the Giants experienced running the ball.
Without him, the passing game has fallen with the Giants' average receiving corps out there. Domenik Hixon didn't take advantage of the opportunity handed to him even though he showed some skills on infrequent occasions.
But seriously, does the combination of Toomer, Hixon, Smith, and Moss pose the legitimate threat needed to keep this Big Blue machine rolling on all cylinders?
One things for sure, Plax or no Plax, Eli needs a big game play-maker, go to guy receiver to keep this offense balanced.
Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin. Tom Brady to Deion Branch. From Bart Starr to Max McGee all the way through Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress, we've seen what a big difference a special quarterback-wide receiver connection can make in the quest for the Super Bowl.
QB to WR: Dangerous combo come playoffs SportingNews.com
Who's to say Plax would've made the catches that were dropped, or that he would have had more balls thrown his way? Who's to say the Eagles wouldn't have double-teamed him and also made his night miserable? Make no mistake about it, the Giants offense with a healthy Plax is virtually unstoppable when functioning on all cylinders.
The keyword is health. Can he recover from the bullet wound to the thigh? In addition to health, there's another keyword to factor in with Plax, and that is the big D word.
Can he come back healthy and not be a huge distraction to the team? That is the bigger question with Plax. Does he have the make up to overcome this, take the high road like a true professional, get back to tip top shape, stay out of trouble, shut up and play? Can we trust him not to do something stupid again? It's as simple as that and that sounds like a tall order.
I'm not sure he's capable. But if he is, welcome back Plax! Either way, the Giants are going to have to make a decision. Get behind Plax 100%, or do what they've done with the previous distractions, overcome them, move on, and become a better team.
And by no means have the Giants been strangers to distractions. Who would've thought the Giants would become a better team rushing the ball without Tiki Barber when he was still around? Looking back, it's easy to see how Tiki's retirement announcement and his yapping in the press about the coach was a distraction that had an effect on the team.
Then you had the Shockey distraction. The Giants got rid of him and didn’t miss a beat, almost like plug-n-play.
Those are just a few to mention. The Giants have managed to overcome distractions fairly easily in recent years and have come out in better shape as a result.
If Plax is gone, this will just be another one to work through. If the Giants decide to rid themselves of this situation, they must replace Plax's playmaking abilities with someone else of his caliber.
Replacing Plax is no easy task as the numbers speak for themselves, though his knack to make big plays in crunch situations is the most important thing of all.
By the numbers with the Giants:
76 REC, 1214 YDS, 7 TDS in 2005
63 REC, 988 YDS, 10 TDs in 2006
70 REC, 1025 YDS, 12 TDS in 2007
35 REC, 454 YDS, 4 TDS in 2008 (partial season)