New York Giants Release Plaxico Burress...Is This a Good Thing?
Seeing Plaxico Burress released was probably one of the most relieving moments of the NFL offseason.
Although there is sure to be some wrath from Giants faithful as to how this will affect the New York "Football" Giants, the situation with Burress needed to be resolved.
Plaxico was undoubtedly a dynamic playmaker for the Giants, and his ability to draw double teams helped the Giants' offense in various ways. Defenses could not focus entirely on stopping the running game and often got burned by other wide receivers who were drawing single coverage.
The commonplace fade pass to the corner of the endzone marked the Giants' passing game throughout Burress' time in New York. At 6'5", 235lbs, opponents had to prepare for a rare physical specimen in Plaxico.
His dominant playoff performance a season ago headlined his career for the big blue, and his final reception in the Super Bowl clinched an NFL championship for New York.
Yet although Plaxico can be a dominant force during the season, his attitude off the field created a gaping hole in his reputation.
After holding out for a new contract at the beginning of the 2008 season, Burress preceded to violate team rules and arguably become a detriment to the team.
Having accrued multiple civil lawsuits and driving violations over the past two years, Burress' accidental shooting in the New York City nightclub LQ sealed his fate and eventual release.
Many of the Giants' faithful may be willing to look past multiple violations of team rules, but the Giants front office must not.
With a team filled with gritty players who conduct themselves as professionals, Burress cannot be given any special treatment.
Failing to comply with team rules, as well as state and federal laws, does not fit the image the Giants are trying to create. Further, what many people fail to remember is Burress' attitude also got him into trouble with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the type of no-nonsense franchise fans admire.
Yet the age-old saying proved true in New York, as "winning cures all ills."
With Burress on the field producing and helping the Giants win games, any violations of rules could eventually be thrown by the wayside. Yet with gun charges and likely subsequent jail time, Burress won't be seeing the field anytime soon.
When he does, the speculation will be as to where he lands (I hear Chicago has a new quarterback looking for some weapons).
Everyone knows what Burress has done for the Giants in the past, but it is evident that the majority of football speculators are most likely asking the immediate question: What do the Giants do now?
After seeing how New York struggled at the end of last season, everyone realized how much of a role Plaxico played in the Giants' offensive scheme. Yet many football critics fail to take into consideration other possibilities as to why the Giants lost to Philadelphia in the playoffs.
With Burress out and Domenik Hixon playing in his stead, Giants' Offensive Coordinator Kevin "Killdrive" Kilbride failed to make changes to his offense to utilize Hixon's skills.
Losing a playmaker like Burress forces a coordinator to change his plays to fit the personnel on the field. With Kilbride deciding not to adjust, failure was inevitable.
As a result, the Giants continued to run the ball on almost every play, failing to trust Eli Manning with the game on the line. Instead, after Eli was intercepted, the coaching staff became gun-shy and attempted to pound the ball down after down.
Changing the offensive plays to fit Hixon, Steve Smith, and former receiver Amani Toomer would have created at least some threat of a passing game that the Eagles would have to have countered.
It's obvious Hixon is not the No. 1 wide receiver Burress is, but he's still a very solid No. 2. Some may argue he isn't even that, but his talent and numbers say otherwise.
Arguably, at least half of the teams in the NFL would start Hixon as their No. 2 receiver at this moment. Teams like the Bears, Chiefs, Jaguars, Rams and Raiders would likely all be thrilled with Hixon out wide.
Further, the Giants are, and will likely always be, a run-first team. Like the aforementioned Steelers have shown, a dominant defense and running game with a solid passing game can place you in Super Bowl contention.
With Hixon, Smith, Sinorice Moss, and Mario Manningham now leading their wide receiver corps, New York has young but still unproven talent they will rely on.
With Hixon and Smith all but guaranteed a starting role, Moss and Manningham are set to battle it out for the final starting wide receiver spot. Although some may have given up on Moss, he has still not been given ample opportunity to play during games.
With New York relying on Toomer, Smith, and Burress throughout much of their game time, Moss was only able to play in spurts but still showed flashes of what he could do with the ball in his hands.
Manningham like Moss has the natural speed that could help the Giants this upcoming season. Also like Moss, he received little playing time to show that speed on the field.
Coming out of Michigan, Manningham had trouble grasping the concepts in the Giants' playbook, but his talent is undeniable.
With the receiver position taking arguably the longest time to develop in the NFL, these two young men will have an opportunity to make a name for themselves this upcoming season.
Yet despite this young stable of wide receivers, the Giants are likely to add one more playmaker to their offense before the beginning of May.
With Torry Holt still available, his playmaking ability would be a major boost to the New York offense. Although he may not be 6'5" like Burress, his ability to change the direction of his body to the angle of the ball makes him No. 1 on a list of possible options the Giants may consider with the money freed up from Burress' release.
People still fail to realize that height isn't everything in football. Watching the current Super Bowl champion Steelers, it is evident that a 6'0" and under receiver can still help teams win championships.
With Torry "Big Game" Holt in town, the Giants could also wait until the second round to draft a young wide receiver and allow Holt to play the role of mentor for the next two years.
With a receiver from the group of Jeremy Maclin, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Brian Robiskie likely dropping to the Giants with their first pick in the second round, they have the opportunity to find a player to groom as a possible future starter.
Although some may argue that many of these receivers will not be available at New York's first pick, one needs only look at last year's draft to see how the predicted first-round wide receivers lasted until the second round.
They might be predicted to be drafted in the first round, but the draft is always unpredictable.
The most important aspect for the Giants in drafting a wide receiver will likely be a player's skill set in the upcoming draft. Some may believe the height of players like Britt and Cal wide-out Ramses Barden may play a role, but a tall receiver is not always the best receiver.
Despite Eli's accuracy issues, a receiver that can adjust to the flight pattern of a ball can be just as effective as a player who can jump for a ball.
Speaking of tall wide receivers, the Cleveland Browns' Braylon Edwards seems to be the popular player that fans would love to see in New York. Yet, despite Braylon's ability to catch touchdowns, his propensity for drops would likely drive Giants fans and coaches insane.
As a constant follower of Edwards' career at Michigan, I know the immense talent he maintains. Yet I also know the unsteady hands that he possesses.
Maybe if Edwards used the Stick-um that former Raiders wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff utilized during his career, my position would change. As of now though, I would choose a receiver with superior hands over one with superior height.
Additionally, there are two major factors that will likely stop the Giants from making a deal with Edwards.
With Kellen Winslow no longer in Cleveland and Donte Stallworth likely counting the days until his prison sentence, Edwards is the Browns only legitimate offensive option (Joe Jurevicius is not returning).
Furthermore, with Giants General Manager Jerry Reese proving to be more interested in acquiring picks than trading them, the likely bounty of a first-round pick, plus more, would most likely end any trade conversations between the Giants and Cleveland.
Looking past Edwards to Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin may seem like a good idea at first, but the compensation for Boldin would also cost the Giants dearly.
Along with a new contract for Boldin, the Giants would have to give up at least a first, third, and fifth round pick (the same compensation the Detroit Lions received for wide receiver Roy Williams this past season).
Reese may be willing to pull the trigger with more cap space, but I still doubt it. If the Cardinals are willing to lower their asking price, talks may resume. Until then, Giants' fans shouldn't get their hopes up.
With Burress out of town, the Giants could move on to Plan B.
They know where their franchise is headed and should answer everyone's questions by the end of the month.
Everyone may want a tall receiver, but height does not make a receiver great. It helps, but with compensation for proven wide receivers on the market still high, the Giants shouldn't make any hasty moves.
Everyone may love the thought of a No. 1 wide receiver, who is 6'5". They may be willing to trade draft picks and release players until they find the cash within the Giants limited cap room.
They may be even be willing to state Dominik Hixon shouldn't be starting and that the Giants will be terrible if they don't trade or draft someone over 6'0" who they believe will all but guarantee a Super Bowl title.
Despite these generalities being the basis of so many onlookers, one must ask themselves the question as to whether a wide receiver like Plaxico Burress is truly the breaking point of the Giants' Super Bowl hopes.
Can the Giants afford to break the bank and trade draft picks with a possible uncapped season a year from now? Has it been proven that wide receivers are the main reasons that teams win the Super Bowl?
Consequently, one may question whether the Giants win the Super Bowl without Burress. That question may seem easy at first, but it is more complicated than you may think. When "ifs" are brought into a conversation about sports, anything can happen.
If they did not have Burress, maybe they would have traded for another wide receiver or found another way to win. Maybe they would have signed someone else in free agency or selected someone in the draft that would have been even more integral to their Super Bowl run.
With this theoretical situation essentially the equivalent of saying: "if a player wouldn't have committed an error back in the seventh inning, his team would have won the game."
When the possibility of losing still remains, one must admit these possibilities are not certainties. Everything can change with one decision or lack thereof.
If the Giants had Burress, they may have beat Philadelphia in the playoffs or they may have not. Maybe Burress would have been injured on the first play of the game or maybe he would have been limited by the Philadelphia defense. That is the nature of sports.
Making changes to acclimate to the situation is what makes good franchises great. That is what the Giants are faced with in the wake of Plaxico Burress' release.
With so many unpredictable and immeasurable elements to be considered, it will be hard for anyone to guarantee what will happen next.
An extension for quarterback Eli Manning may be on the horizon as well as the possible signing of aforementioned free agent Torry Holt, who although 32, is still regarded as a No. 1 wide receiver.
Either way, the New York "Football" Giants have many questions to answer about who will step into Burress' spot in the offense.
With Burress' attitude no longer a concern and with the coaching staff finally being forced to change their play-calling to fit the players on the field, the Giants will be in a much better position than at the end of last year. It will also allow them more flexibility regarding player personnel and the salary cap.
Despite all the statements I may offer, one thing I truly know is not to expect the Giants to make a "flashy" move and compromise the organization's usual thought process when fielding next year's offense.
With depth being key and character being just as important, I would expect a move that would fit Jerry Reese's lackluster, financially savvy, and extremely effective managerial style.
Winning now at the cost of losing draft picks and money sounds great, but with a team full of players in their prime, winning now and preparing for the future sounds even better.
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