The loss of Plaxico Burress is going to affect the New York Giants offense. The results of the last five games played without Burress speak for themselves. In order to overcome this obstacle, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is going to need to make some adjustments to his schemes and play calling. He won't have to look far to see the blueprint for what should be a very successful and high powered offense.
In 2007 the Giants fielded and up and down offense. At times they looked unstoppable and other times they could not get out of their own way. Then, in Week 15, something happened that changed the course of the offense and propelled Eli Manning into the most successful stretch of his career: Jeremy Shockey broke his leg.
Now, Shockey was one of the most dangerous offensive weapons on the field. Losing him was likely to hurt the Giants, not help them. However, in order to compensate for the loss of one of their biggest play makers Gilbride and the Giants had to revamp their offense on the fly. No longer was the passing game being used to pick up huge chunks of yards at a time. They couldn't continue with that offense because they didn't have a presence in the middle of the field. Instead they started to use the passing game to move the chains and relied heavily on the run.
This past season, it seemed the Giants entered the year running the same offense they had previously used before the Shockey injury. Only this time the running game was so much stronger than the passing game was complimentary at best. When they needed a big play, though, they could always toss one up to Burress and usually he would come down with it. Defenses had to respect that presence and the running game thrived because of it.
When Burress was lost for the season, there was no threat on the outside. Domenick Hixon performed admirably and did the best he could, but Plaxico Burress he is not. Teams could load up on the running game and man up on the receivers that the Giants put out on the field. This situation desperately cried for the same adjustment they had previously gone to. Namely short quick passes to move the chains while the running game moved the ball. This time the adjustment never came and the Giants season ended sooner than it should have.
The Giants are entering the 2009 season with a very solid stable of wide receivers but no unstoppable presence. That's why the adjustment needs to happen. They need to do away with long bombs which are hard to complete and easy to defend when you don't have a guy like Burress on the field. Gilbride will need to look deep into his bag of tricks and pull out the Super Bowl game plan he put together in 2007. He needs to put Manning and his receivers in the best position to win. That means short passes, easy completions, and long sustained drives for points.
A simple tweak in the offensive game plan could be the difference between the Giants fielding one of the most potent offenses in football and just having and up and down erratic group that sometimes can't get out of their own way.