Much has been made of Eli Manning's alleged need of Plaxico Burress or a wide receiver with similar size and skill set. After all, the combination had become one of the best in the NFL when they began hooking up on touchdown passes in 2005.
And it's a well known fact that when Eli misses, he misses high...so it's not a reach to assume he needs a tall wide receiver to succeed.
However, if you actually break down the statistics in 2008 and compare Manning's numbers with Burress to his numbers without him, they're not that much different. In fact, an argument could be made that Peyton's younger brother preformed better without his star wide receiver.
**The following statistical analysis was done with ESPN's official stats and brucey.net's QB Rating calculator.**
With Plaxico Burress (Weeks 1-3 and 6-11):
164/279 (58.78%) for 1,812 yards with 13 TD's and seven INT's (83.20 QB Rating)
Yards per attempt - 6.49
TD% - 4.66
INT% - 2.50
Without Plaxico Burress (Weeks 5 and 12-17):
125/200 (62.5%) for 1,426 yards with eight TD's and three INT's (90.95 QB Rating)
Yards per attempt - 7.13
TD% - 4.00
INT% - 1.50
Including the playoff loss to Philadelphia:
140/229 (61.1%) for 1,595 yards and eight TD's and five INT's (84.59 QB Rating)
Yards per attempt - 6.97
TD% - 3.49
INT% - 2.18
It's important to note that Manning only played one half in week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings. Had he played the full game, here are his projected stats without Burress and the playoff loss included:
151/248 (60.9%) for 1,714 and eight TD's and five INT's (83.97 QB Rating)
Yards per attempt - 6.91
TD% - 3.23
INT% - 2.01
So what do all of these stats really tell us? Basically, that Manning can succeed without Burress and arguably does better. However, you should also note that his TD percentage was much higher when Burress was playing, but that his INT percentage was also higher...perhaps a sign of him forcing the ball to Plax?
Bottom line? Eli and the Giants don't need Burress to succeed. What they do need is another productive end-zone threat...something I believe Ramses Barden will become almost immediately.
That's that, Giants fans. It's time to take your fingers off the panic button.