Though The New York Giants had a forgettable ending to the 2008 season, there was still plenty of good to be drawn from the season as a whole.
In the final five games, the Giants were a miserable 1-4 including a post season loss to Philadelphia.
But prior to Burress shooting himself, the Giants were 4-0 in his absence. Beating Pittsburgh (Burress did not start, but played sparingly late) Seattle, Arizona (Burress played one play), and Washington (the day of his shooting).
If The Giants were able to beat those teams minus Burress, there was surely something else missing in the final portion of the season that caused them to stumble.
Against both Dallas and Philadelphia, the Giants were without Brandon Jacobs for the most part, as he went down midway through their second bout with Philadelphia.
Defensively, the Giants surrendered 13 third down conversions in that same game against Philadelphia.
The following week, the Giants lost both Rich Seuburt and Kareem McKenzie during the game.
All of these seemingly small details contributed more to New York's demise than Plaxico Burress, in my opinion.
Let’s examine some of New York's best performances (contained in hyperlinks) minus Plaxico Burress in 2008.
NFL-GameDay-Seahawks-vs-Giants-highlights">Week Four: Giants rack up over 350 yards in the first half.
Week 12: Hixon shows his abilities against Cromartie and as a returner.
Week 13: Eli throws for 267 in the first half.
As the 2009 roster shapes up, third down receiver Steve Smith, who recorded 57 catches in 2008 while only playing one down, will be inserted into the starting lineup alongside Hixon. Both are in their magical third seasons as receivers and should see vast improvement.
Should Hixon struggle against players like Terrance Newmen (as he did), the Giants can opt to utilize first round selection Hakeem Nicks (talk about physicality) as a more physical presence in certain situations.
The receiver-by-committee may just yield New York's best passing game in years, provided that camp goes well for Eli and the Giants.