Cowboys vs. Jets: Why Plaxico Burress' Slow Start Should Concern Rex Ryan

Dylan MacNamaraSenior Writer ISeptember 11, 2011

The tale of Plaxico Burress won't be rehashed here. His status as the symbol of athlete stupidity is irrelevant to this piece. Mostly.

But Jets coaches, fans and players ought to be concerned about what level of production they should expecting from Burress.

More than two years away from the game may have irrevocably diminished Plaxico's skill set. 

During the first half of Sunday night's tilt against the Cowboys, Burress was targeted only once. That one play was particularly telling. 

Burress had man coverage against Mike Jenkins (who was one of the worst corners in the NFL in 2010) on the outside of the Jets formation. Burress took an outside release, never stemmed the route and never gained separation. Mike Jenkins was in his hip pocket, step for step.

Sanchez probably should've thrown to Burress' back shoulder, as Cris Collinsworth pointed out. But that's sort of besides the point. Three-step drop and let-it-go fades have to be Plaxico's bread and butter. He has to be a weapon in the red zone or he may find his snaps begin to go to other members of New York's receiver corps as the season goes on.

Even more telling was that during the Jets' lone trip into the red zone during the first half, Mark Sanchez failed to look in Plaxico's direction. In fact, on the first play from the 3-yard line, Sanchez had Derrick Mason one on one to his right and Burress one on one to his left. Sanchez chose to go after Alan Ball, Mason's defender, but the pass fell incomplete.

Tight end Dustin Keller scored on the next play.

Without a doubt, we're talking about a tiny sample size here. But when a guy like Plaxico starts a season with so many questions about his age and declining ability, it's hard not to question whether or not Burress has much left to offer this team.