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ESPN: Giants' weakness: No. 1 wide receiver


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Giants' weakness: No. 1 wide receiver

June 15, 2009

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

In the last four games of the 2008 season, Eli Manning did not eclipse 191 yards passing. During that stretch -- without wide receiver Plaxico Burress -- he threw only two touchdowns.

The Giants won at home in overtime over Carolina in Week 16, but lost the other three contests. Manning completed only 54 percent of his passes in that stretch. Manning, never the most accurate passer around, was even worse during the Giants' playoff loss --once again, without Burress. Weather was a factor at times and Brandon Jacobs missed two of those games, but it was apparent that defenses didn't fear New York's pass-catchers with Burress out of the lineup. The Giants' offense features a tremendous running game, but that might not be enough when compared to the other elite teams in this league.

There was much speculation that the Giants would add Braylon Edwards in the offseason, but that never materialized. Instead, they used their late first-round selection on North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is fairly refined for a rookie and the Tar Heels used a lot of NFL principles in their offense, but he is still a rookie and an adjustment period is a given. Nicks is an intriguing option, and there are other young wideouts on this squad who also have a lot of upside.

Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith don't have as high of a ceiling as Nicks, but both, especially Smith, are steady players. Smith should be a fine No. 2 wideout or slot guy for the foreseeable future, but he and Hixon would be far more effective with a true difference-maker on the opposite side. Hixon did lead the team in receiving last year and has some big-play abilities.

Two wild cards are Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss. Neither is particularly big, but they can get deep. Manningham in particular could take a big step forward this year, while Moss needs to step up to see the field.

The Giants also used a third-round selection on Ramses Barden. His stature is extremely impressive, but he looked overwhelmed at the Senior Bowl and I expect that to be the case in Year One for someone trying to make the transition from a tiny school like Cal Poly. He is a long-term project.

Overall, this is a very good team. Even with Steve Spagnuolo now in St. Louis, I expect the defense to be much improved -- which is really saying something. The running game should once again be among the top few in the league. Manning did a better job of valuing the football last year and that improvement needs to continue. He also needs to be more confident in spreading the ball around -- he clearly missed his safety blanket when Burress was out. A wideout or two could step up as well. Even without a true No. 1 option at that position, the Giants should win plenty of 13-9, grind-it-out games. It would just be much easier with someone of Burress' or Edwards' caliber in the mix.

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Seriously, I wish I could get paid for writing articles where you do nothing but state the obvious. My only serious point of contention for this article is this idea that has been promulgated by the media that the Giants completely fell apart without Burress and that was why they went 1-3 in their final four games.

In reality when you look closer you see the Giants could easily have squashed the Vikings who needed a last second FG to beat the Giants B team, and if it wasn't for a hot Philadelphia team there is no doubt in my mind the Giants would have met the Steelers in the Super Bowl. The Vikings and Cardinals would not have beaten us inside Giants stadium. So for all this talk of how miserable we were without Burress last year, we were still that close to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.

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Seriously, I wish I could get paid for writing articles where you do nothing but state the obvious. My only serious point of contention for this article is this idea that has been promulgated by the media that the Giants completely fell apart without Burress and that was why they went 1-3 in their final four games.

In reality when you look closer you see the Giants could easily have squashed the Vikings who needed a last second FG to beat the Giants B team, and if it wasn't for a hot Philadelphia team there is no doubt in my mind the Giants would have met the Steelers in the Super Bowl. The Vikings and Cardinals would not have beaten us inside Giants stadium. So for all this talk of how miserable we were without Burress last year, we were still that close to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.

You may be right about the last part but what are you going to do this year without a legit #1 WR to stretch the field. You guys went 1-3 without Burress and do you honestly think that you can be successful without a guy of his caliber? I don't think so. Your Defense may be stout but they will get tired when they are on the field more than off especially when Eli and Company can't move the ball effectively.

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You may be right about the last part but what are you going to do this year without a legit #1 WR to stretch the field. You guys went 1-3 without Burress and do you honestly think that you can be successful without a guy of his caliber? I don't think so. Your Defense may be stout but they will get tired when they are on the field more than off especially when Eli and Company can't move the ball effectively.

Here's what the Giants did without Burress last season.

Seattle 44-6

Cardinals 37-29

Redskins 23-7

Eagles 14-20

Cowboys 8-20

Panthers 34-28

Vikings 19-20

In those 7 games the Giants averaged 25.6 points a game. That's a point less than what the Giants averaged with Burress.

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Here's what the Giants did without Burress last season.

Seattle 44-6

Cardinals 37-29

Redskins 23-7

Eagles 14-20

Cowboys 8-20

Panthers 34-28

Vikings 19-20

In those 7 games the Giants averaged 25.6 points a game. That's a point less than what the Giants averaged with Burress.

Are you honestly saying that the team was the same with Burress vs. without? Because that point total thing is idiotic.

They were a different team, and became very beatable without him.

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Are you honestly saying that the team was the same with Burress vs. without? Because that point total thing is idiotic.

They were a different team, and became very beatable without him.

What's idiotic? The Giants were scoring as well without Burress as they were with him. The only teams the Giants really struggled with down the stretch was the Cowboys and Eagles. There were also other things that seemed to take there toll on the Giants. Like playing a playoff game in the Meadowland.

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The past two years the OL gave the Giants a top running game and Eli time to go through progressions. If this success continues they should be able to get away with their young talent at WR (mostly 2's & 3's).

Since they decided againt bringing in a #1 WR I think the bigger weakness is at TE and backup QB. Drafting Beckum could prove to be a great move but I find it hard to see him being a large contributor this season. My thought is Boss is going to need more help.

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You may be right about the last part but what are you going to do this year without a legit #1 WR to stretch the field. You guys went 1-3 without Burress and do you honestly think that you can be successful without a guy of his caliber? I don't think so. Your Defense may be stout but they will get tired when they are on the field more than off especially when Eli and Company can't move the ball effectively.

Of course I think we can be successful without Burress, why wouldn't I? I'm not about to argue we're better offensively without Burress, but we have some excellent pieces already in place to offset his loss. Last year it was very difficult to lose Burress when we did so late in the season, the Giants were completely blindsided and unprepared to make the necessary changes to their scheme to compensate for life without Plax.

We got exposed when we went up against an elite defense in Philadelphia and another which led the league in sacks in Dallas. Oh well, you move on. The Giants won't field the same offense they had a year ago, not only is there changes in personnel but the coaching staff has had a whole offseason to adapt. I'm not expecting miracles, I think they'll be an inconsistent unit, but I also fully expect them to be very explosive.

Practically all of the guys we have sport good deep speed and ball skills, if OTA's are any indication the Giants are going to be relying on the deep ball a helluva lot more than they did a year ago, which was almost non-existent. Yeah, I expect there will be alot more incompletions and miscommunication, but we have the makings of an elite defense which we can lean on if we go 3 and out, and we also come into the season with the benefit of the best rushing attack in the league, four deep at the RB position.

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Last year it was very difficult to lose Burress when we did so late in the season, the Giants were completely blindsided and unprepared to make the necessary changes to their scheme to compensate for life without Plax.

We got exposed when we went up against an elite defense in Philadelphia and another which led the league in sacks in Dallas. Oh well, you move on.

I agree.

Eli is always going to try to spread the ball around. When they lost Plax, the team was not prepared for the loss, and it showed. ANy point analysis is foolish, because A Carolina is going to let you do things that a DAL will not.

The texture of the team was different.

Eli will always spread the ball around, but if it's Hixon and Moss, it's different than if you have the big 6'5" Plax. The point total not changing means nothing. One big receiver gone and not replaced, means you need a new plan. They didn't have it last year.

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Seriously, I wish I could get paid for writing articles where you do nothing but state the obvious. My only serious point of contention for this article is this idea that has been promulgated by the media that the Giants completely fell apart without Burress and that was why they went 1-3 in their final four games.

In reality when you look closer you see the Giants could easily have squashed the Vikings who needed a last second FG to beat the Giants B team, and if it wasn't for a hot Philadelphia team there is no doubt in my mind the Giants would have met the Steelers in the Super Bowl. The Vikings and Cardinals would not have beaten us inside Giants stadium. So for all this talk of how miserable we were without Burress last year, we were still that close to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.

The Cardinals went into a very cold Carolina and completely blew the doors off 'em.

The same Carolina team that dominated the Giants until the 4th quarter in the Meadowlands. Save for the pitiful collapse by Carolina, they'd have taken that game.

Don't sell them too short there. They were just as hot, if not hotter than Philly. And they proved it.

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They should base the offense off the run and just tell Eli to not lose the game. They could probably win 9 games by just doing that. Nicks should be able to come in and produce a little, Barden on the other hand is a project and probably won't be a factor until a couple of years down the line. Smith, Hixon, Manningham etc. are average but nothing to write home about. All in all, it is a huge weakness but I think it is one that they can overcome.

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The Cardinals went into a very cold Carolina and completely blew the doors off 'em.

The same Carolina team that dominated the Giants until the 4th quarter in the Meadowlands. Save for the pitiful collapse by Carolina, they'd have taken that game.

Don't sell them too short there. They were just as hot, if not hotter than Philly. And they proved it.

Very cold Carolina... oh, please. Coming into a frigid Giants stadium in the middle of January with swirling winds is a completely different proposition. And did you even watch the Panthers/Giants game?

The Panthers dominated the Giants until the 4th quarter? The game was 21-20 heading into the 4th. It was a game of two halves, the first was dominated by the Panthers, the second by the Giants. And I'm sure the Giants would have blown the doors off the Panthers too if Jake Delhomme would have turned the ball over 23 times like he did against the Cardinals.

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Very cold Carolina... oh, please. Coming into a frigid Giants stadium in the middle of January with swirling winds is a completely different proposition. And did you even watch the Panthers/Giants game?

The Panthers dominated the Giants until the 4th quarter? The game was 21-20 heading into the 4th. It was a game of two halves, the first was dominated by the Panthers, the second by the Giants. And I'm sure the Giants would have blown the doors off the Panthers too if Jake Delhomme would have turned the ball over 23 times like he did against the Cardinals.

Actually, I was at the game. And Carolina handed the Giants that one.

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Very cold Carolina... oh, please. Coming into a frigid Giants stadium in the middle of January with swirling winds is a completely different proposition. And did you even watch the Panthers/Giants game?

The Panthers dominated the Giants until the 4th quarter? The game was 21-20 heading into the 4th. It was a game of two halves, the first was dominated by the Panthers, the second by the Giants. And I'm sure the Giants would have blown the doors off the Panthers too if Jake Delhomme would have turned the ball over 23 times like he did against the Cardinals.

I can't believe he called Carolina cold. Even most New Yorker's don't know what real cold is in my opinion.

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I'm willing to argue that Plax and Eli had a very good chemistry - the kind you want your #1 and QB to have. Eli seemed to perform well without him early in the year (the suspension), but I seem to remember them depending more on their running game later in the season (not surprising though).

But anyway, I think Eli's confidence is way up right now and he seems to be much more of a leader on the field. I'm not willing to bet them taking as much of a dive as some of us hope. But I'm not betting on their offense putting up the same kind of points as before either.

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Are you honestly saying that the team was the same with Burress vs. without? Because that point total thing is idiotic.

They were a different team, and became very beatable without him.

They were beatable to the Eagles and Cowboys, 2 teams with excellent defenses. And considering the Giants defense was banged up, it wasn't much of a surprise that those teams were able to beat us. They've struggled with Plax in the lineup before, and there were countless times where Eli and Plax were on the wrong page, so it goes hand in hand.

This year, on paper, our wide receivers look like our #1 weakness, mainly because the experience isn't their. But it's not exactly like they'll be working with a bunch of rookie free agents or low draft picks. There's talent there, and most Giant fans are excited to see what we have.

I think if there's one thing we are worried about the most, is quality depth on the offensive line. If 1 player goes down, we're in pretty big trouble.

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What I don't understand is why there's so many Giants and Cowboys fans on this forum.... What's the point?? Just to go around in every topic where your team is badmouthed and start arguments? It's like the guy who wears a Cowboys jersey to every Redskins game regardless of who they're playing just to piss people off.

:gaintsuck:dallasuck

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I know Giants' fans don't want to hear this, but this is probably their weakest team in the last three years.

It all depends on their offensive line play.

Giants fans coming to Extremeskins expect to hear that from you tr1 ;)

I agree that the performance of the o-line is key, but that is true with almost any team.

As for the weakest in 3 years, I am not so sure about that. I think there were alot more questions of the strength of the team in June of '07 than now. Will strahan retire? How will the giants replace tiki barber (60% of their offense in 06)? Will Eli ever take the next step? They were also coming off of an 8-8 season where they "snuck" into the playoffs.

That said, there is no doubt that WR is a big question for the giants. I am more concerned about the new Defensive Coordinator though.

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How's that?

They let the Giants, without Burress, drive down the field with less than 5 minutes to go for a TD. Then allowed the 2 point conversion. Then missed a game winning field goal as time expired.

They had numerous chances to put the game away and squandered every one of them.

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