Playing in his first game in nearly three years, Plaxico Burress looked rusty in his return to the NFL with the New York Jets Sunday night. As the night continued, Burress started to become more of a factor for the Jets, scoring a touchdown to cut the Jets' deficit to 24-17.
While Burress was not a factor in the first half, Jets fans have to be pleased with his performance last night. Expecting Burress to get back to the NFL after a two-year absence and make an immediate impact was unrealistic. To Burress' credit, he helped the Jets in many ways.
Let's go over the facets of Plaxico's game and give him an overall grade for Sunday night's performance against the Dallas Cowboys.
Plaxico had four catches for 72 yards in Sunday's game. He was targeted by Mark Sanchez nine times, which is both Sanchez's and Burress' fault. Some throws just missed Burress, particularly a throw in the first quarter where Sanchez did not put the ball on Plaxico's back shoulder where he had position. On another play in the fourth quarter, Sanchez threw a ball to Burress that Burress did not adjust on and it was knocked down by the cornerback. This will improve over time.
Burress' touchdown catch is exactly the type of play the Jets need on offense. The Jets struggled in the red zone last year. If the Jets have more big plays in the passing game, it will improve the red zone offense because it will open the running game.
In the first half, Plaxico was quiet, as was the Jets' offense. The second half was when Plaxico started to become a factor. His size always caused a mismatch because of the smaller cornerback, and it showed on his touchdown reception.
For the first game, I thought Plaxico was very good.
This was something that impressed me Sunday night and excites me for the future. Plaxico's impact on the offense and mere presence on the field helps the Jets' offense in many ways.
With Plaxico's size, he demands attention from multiple players on the defense; Dallas had no player in the secondary who could match it. While Dallas played zone most of the night, Burress' size gives him an advantage.
This opens up the running game because of the attention Burress demands. If I were preparing for a game against the Jets, my first priority would be to stop the running game, which Dallas did. I would put seven or eight men in the box and tell Mark Sanchez to beat my secondary.
With Burress and Holmes, the defense has to be concerned with the outside weapons. This gives the Jets a more balanced attack. This is the facet of Plaxico's game that is most important for the Jets.
Grade: A- and it will only become more important
What surprised me in the preseason is that Rex Ryan did not let Plaxico Burress play in a whole game. I would have had Burress play the whole game in the second preseason game just so he knows what to expect.
Having said that, Burress looked good in the second half. He wasn't visibly fatigued and still made an impact in the fourth quarter.
Burress conceded after the game that he was fatigued when he said, "I still have some football shape to get in to. I expected to be a little fatigued going into the fourth quarter." (via ESPN)
Burress played better than I expected considering that he has not played in the NFL since 2008. This can only be a good sign for Jets fans for the coming weeks. He still has some work to do though.
Plaxico Burress did everything Jets fans could have asked for in Sunday night's game. He made an immediate impact in a game where he needed to prove that his talent did not dramatically drop off after spending time in prison.
When Sanchez and Burress form a better relationship, Plaxico may turn out to be a key signing for the Jets. After Sunday's performance, Jets fans are all pleased with the signing. Burress does need to improve in different facets of his game, but the win against the Cowboys proved to be an encouraging start for him.
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