FOR THE NY GIANTS, IT’S NOT JUST NO PLAX; IT’S NO TOOMER AS WELL

                                Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Whatever they publicly say (we have a great defense, we have a great running game, etc.), the reality is that the New York Giants have done a woeful job with their present wide receiving corp.  It’s old news that the Giants couldn’t replace Plaxico Burress when they decided to cut ties with him last year; indeed, if you follow the Giants, you know it hurt them tremendously, in general, and specifically in the playoffs against the Eagles (see Kallas Remarks, 1/13/09).

Flying under the radar is the loss of old reliable Amani Toomer.  If Plaxico Burress was always Eli Manning’s security blanket when he was in trouble (you know, throw it up and Plaxico had a better chance than anyone to catch it), Amani Toomer was the older, wiser veteran who would find a way to get open and catch the ball from Eli.  Toomer’s numbers in the last two seasons combined were vital to the Giants’ success – 117 receptions, 1340 yards, an average of 12.5 yards per catch.  These are solid numbers that are necessary to supplement the star plays of a Burress – if you want to win Super Bowls.  In addition, 72 of those 117 catches went for first downs. 

 These numbers are going to be greatly missed by this year’s Giants’ offense.

 WHAT’S A QUARTERBACK TO DO?

 Well, despite Eli Manning’s Super Bowl success, nobody puts him on the level of the elite quarterbacks.  The problem for him now is that he has much less to throw to, despite (probably) a great defense and (probably) a great running game.  Manning, with that Super Bowl win and staggering new contract, may have already done his best work with the forever Miracle Drive, Miracle Catch and Miracle Win over the unbeatable Patriots.  But he got what he got out of a great sense of timing, if nothing else.

WHO’S FILLING THIS VOID?

Now that’s a tough question.  Steve Smith is a solid receiver but is he enough to pave the way?  Unlikely, it says here, although the Giants running game should give Eli lots of chances downfield in the passing game.  Is rookie Hakeem Nicks the answer to no Plaxico?  Well, he played well in the pre-season with some big-time plays.  But he’s a 6’-1” rookie, so that’s a lot to ask.  Rookie Ramses Barden is 6”6”, but if size alone could replace a Plaxico, every team would have a 6”6” receiver. 

 It just ain’t that simple.

Maybe Domenik Hixon? Sinorice Moss? My favorite coming out of Michigan last year, Mario Manningham?  Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

And that’s the problem for the New York Giants.  They have a lot of maybes at the wide receiver position.  And while they will do fine during the regular season (hard to see them missing the playoffs), it’s really in the playoffs where the lack of a playmaker like Plaxico and a solid receiver like Toomer really come back to haunt you.

WHAT DOES ELI MANNING THINK?

As you would expect, Eli Manning is saying all the right things.  He thinks he has playmakers at the wide receiver position, and hopefully he’s right.  But when he starts talking about beating the Redskins without Plaxico last year by throwing the ball after Washington put an extra man in the box to limit bruiser Brandon Jacobs, he talks about his 40-yard TD pass to Amani Toomer – as if Toomer is back this year.

Well, he’s not.

So the Giants are good enough on defense (no Steve Spagnuolo, but they get Osi Umenyiora back) and have a good enough running game (despite the loss of Derrick Ward’s 1,025 yards and 5.6 yards per carry).  But can all of this overcome the huge loss of Plaxico Burress AND Amani Toomer? 

Hard to imagine that it will be enough to make it all the way back to the Promised Land.  We’ll see.   

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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