Okay, we all know that Plaxico Burress was an asset to the Giants and a deep threat that clearly softened up opposing defenses for our running game...Yeah, I get it.
But lets look at the facts. The Giants are/were a very solid team with out Plaxico.
I think that the statistic that continues to get blown out of proportion is that “Post Plaxico, the Giants went 2-3”. Yes it’s true, the offense became more one-dimensional, and only threw 2 touchdowns in the final four games. But I want to dive in to the true effectiveness of the entire team without Plaxico Burress and try to point out where I see the areas of breakdown are.
Let’s look at the games that Burress did not play to see how effective the Giants were without him.
Week 5: (no Plax) win over the 1-2 Seahawks; The Giants racked up 523 yards in total offense and limited Seattle to 187 in a 42-12 victory. Eli was 19 for 25 with 267 yards and two TDs. Carr was sent in to finish the Seahawks off and threw another TD. Hixon caught 4 passes for 102 yards and Toomer caught 4 for 64 yards. Jacobs ran 15 times for 136 yards and Brawshaw ran 11 times for 65 yards. Giants controlled the clock for 36:28. A well played game on both sides of the ball.
Week 13: (no Plax) win over the 7-4 Redskins (23-7); Eli threw 21/34 for 305 yards, and our backfield ran for a total of 108 yards. Toomer was 5/85 yards and both Ward and Hixon caught 5 for 75 and 71, respectively. Giants O was on the field for 35:44 and had 404 yards vs the Skins’ 24:16/320.
Week 14: (no Plax) loss to the Eagles (20-14); Eli was 13/27 for 123 yards, the rushing game was held to a terrible 88 yards total. The Eagles had a total of 331 yards of offense – their time of possession was 34:54 vs Giants 211/25:06. Note: Brian Dawkins was used as an additional LB as the Free Safety was not needed due to the lack of a deep threat.
Week 15: (no Plax) loss to the Cowboys (20-8); T.O.P. was about the same (30:32 vs 29:28). Eli was 18/35 for 191 yards with two INTs. Romo was 20/30 for 244 with none. Eli was sacked 8 times. The Demarcus Ware was a beast, plain and simple. With all of this, the giants were still in the game with 2:16 to play (down by a TD) when Tashard Choice broke a 38 yard scamper in to the endzone. This was not a well played game on either side of the ball.
Week 16: (no Plax) win over the Panthers (34-28); The Giants remembered how to play ball in a must win (HFA) game. The Giants dominated the clock (39:07 vs 20:56) and had 459 yards of offense (vs. 343). The Defense played a solid game allowing the combo of Williams and Stewart only 137 yards on the ground).
The Giants were still able to run all over Carolina (Ward ran 15 for 215, Jacobs ran 24 for 87) – not to mention that Eli didn’t have a horrible game (17/27 with 181 – 63% avg 10.6 per and a TD).
Week 17: (no Plax) loss to the Vikings; Eli played the half the game and threw 11/19 for 119 yards. Carr took over and went 8/11 for 110 yards. Jacobs did not play, and neither did 60 percent of the starting defense. They still held Adrian Peterson to 103 yards on 21 attempts. That’s 4.9 ypc. Not too bad for mostly 2nd stringers. The coaching staff used this game to rest many of the starters and I don’t think it’s fair to include it in the argument that without Plax, the Giants lost this game too (considering they lost on a last second 52 yard FG vs second stringers).
If you look at these facts, it’s clear that the Giant are better with Plaxico, but in games that you should actually count, the Giants were 3 and 2 without Plaxico. I believe that the stats show that the defense was digressing and it’s clear that opposing teams were on the field more often and able to put up more points.
The stable of running backs, receivers and defensive linemen that the Giants are blessed with this year will have a profound effect on the sustainability of victories.
I expect the Giants to win the division and play (at least) in the championship game.