The importance of WRs Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer to the New York Giants offense in the past cannot be overstated. They were both quick, sure-handed, and could be counted on to make the big plays in the 4th quarter.
Until the unfortunate night club incident last season ended their streak, either Burress or Toomer had led the Giants in receiving yards for nine-straight years (since 1999).
However, Burress is no longer on the Giants and Toomer has retired.
The most senior member of the Giants wide receiving corps is now David Tyree, who, at 29, is remembered for his sensational catch in the Super Bowl and not much else. Needless to say, the Giants wide receivers are young, inexperienced, and untested in the NFL.
In order to relieve pressure from QB Eli Manning and the Giants passing game, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will look to establish the run more in the 2009 season.
Featuring power RB Brandon Jacobs and fleet-footed RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Gilbride has many running plays at his disposal.
The most effective run play for Jacobs is a north-south run out of the I-formation. With FB Madison Hedgecock leading the way, Jacobs hits the holes harder than any running back in the NFL.
Gilbride should avoid using Jacobs in east-west runs, such as a toss play or sweep, because Jacobs doesn't possess the breakaway speed necessary to gain the outer edge on defenders.
Ahmad Bradshaw will be used similarly to the way former Giants RB Derrick Ward was used last year. Bradshaw will be the running back who lines up alongside Manning when the Giants are in shotgun formation, receiving draw plays up the middle and counter plays behind pulling guards. Bradshaw will be the running back catching swing-passes out of the backfield, and he will also be called upon when the Giants want to run a RB screen play.
If the Giants are able to establish a solid ground game like they had last season, the field will open up for Eli Manning and he will have an easier time getting his young receivers involved.
Out of a solid run game, Manning would be able to sell the play-action pass, freezing opposing linebackers and secondary just enough to give his receivers that extra step to get open.
The Giants defense will be just as sound as last season. With star DE Osi Umenyiora returning to the team, the Giants defense is poised for anther top-10 defensive ranking by the time the season comes to a close.
The fate of the Giants season rests with their offense. Running backs Jacobs and Bradshaw will have to remain healthy and put forth quality rushing performances each week. Manning will need to find some chemistry with his young receivers and be able to connect with them for third-down conversions.
If their offense is able to click, the Giants are destined for a great season. If they are not able to do so, the Giants' season could become very interesting.