New York Giants' X's and O's: The Loss of Ward May Hurt More Than Plaxico

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IMay 15, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21:  Running back Derrick Ward #34 of the New York Giants breaks tackles in over time against the Carolina Panthers on December 21, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Panthers 28 to 34. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

When the New York Giants lost Plaxico Burress right before the start of the playoffs they were a different team than the one that had dominated the regular season.  No longer did Eli Manning have that tall receiver to elude defensive backs and leap to make that diving catch.


The Giants thought they’d be able to survive on the powerful three element running attack of Brandon Jacobs (Earth), Derrick Ward (Wind), and Ahmad Bradshaw (Fire).  And why not?  Both Jacobs and Ward rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and Bradshaw would come off the bench to contribute whenever called upon.


But in the playoffs, it didn’t matter how many natural elements they had on their roster.  The offense’s performance in the playoffs was so pitiful they even attempted to run the wild cat offense a few times.


Needless to say, the Giants were shocked at home. Many pointed to the absence of Burress and their inability to replace him with a capable receiver.


The Giants offseason mission was to find a receiver to deliver the big play. They courted trades for Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin, but eventually settled on drafting wide outs. What impact they’ll have we must wait and see.


However, even before the draft, a part of the Giants three-headed monster was severed when Derrick Ward left for Tampa Bay. So now, with one proven back and a role player, the Giants may not be able to rely on their running game the way they have in the past.


Then again the last time the Giants lost a thousand yard rusher they won the Super Bowl.  So which will affect the team’s playcalling the most? Unfortunately, the one to answer that is coordinator Kevin Gilbride.


During last season’s playoff meltdown, he seemed to forget that Brandon Jacobs never runs well on the outside. He’s called Earth for a reason you know.


Now the Giants have been able to replace Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, and even Osi Umenyiora when he was injured. The playcalling will depend on who can step up to fill significant roles on offense. Of course, the coordinator will have to know how to use them though.