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OF COURSE THE GIANTS HAVE TO TALK TO (AND EVEN SIGN, IF THEY CAN) PLAXICO BURRESS

Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas    –   Hard to believe that many “experts” think the Giants shouldn’t meet with or sign Plaxico Burress.  Here’s the reality:  Plaxico Burress did the stupid crime, did the mandatory time and certainly deserves a second chance.  The question for the Giants shouldn’t be “Can Tom Coughlin deal with Plaxico after the negative statements Plaxico made about Coughlin?” or “Can Eli Manning’s tepid comments earlier this week (“I have no opinion” on whether the Giants should bring back Plaxico”) be interpreted as a QB who doesn’t want Burress back?”

There’s only one question that needs to be asked and answered:  Are the New York Giants a better football team with Plaxico Burress than they would be without him?

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock since Plaxico shot himself Thanksgiving weekend of 2008, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

TIME FOR TOM COUGHLIN TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR

Tom Coughlin might feel a little uncomfortable meeting with Plaxico Burress tonight at the Meadowlands.  And he has every right to be.  Plaxico’s anti-Coughlin comments were uncalled for and inappropriate. 

But that’s not the point.  After giving Coughlin a one-year extension earlier this week (so he’s under contract for this season and next season), you don’t have to be an NFL general manager or owner to figure out that, if Coughlin doesn’t produce this year (i.e., at least a playoff berth, if not more), he probably won’t be coaching the Giants next year.

When Coughlin objectively looks at his team, specifically Eli Manning and his wide receivers, it’s clear that Plaxico was never really replaced.  The Giants have a good receiving core (although the reports are that Steve Smith’s knee at this stage isn’t as good as the Giants had hoped), but they have nobody like Burress. 

You know the old saying in basketball:  “You can’t coach seven feet.”  Well, in football, the saying should be “You can’t coach 6’ 5”.  Burress has the ability, whether you (or Tom Coughlin) like him or not, when the ball is a jump ball and the corner is 5’11”, maybe 6’, to have a great advantage in that situation.

So the kinder, mellower Tom Coughlin, who changed the way he coached and won a Super Bowl doing it, should take a page out of his own book and do the same thing now.

The job he saves might be his own.

TIME FOR ELI MANNING TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR

It was disappointing to hear Eli Manning essentially side-step questions about Plaxico’s possible return.  To say he has no opinion was disappointing.  Justin Tuck had the opposite reaction, saying the team would “love” to have Burress back and making a pitch to bring him back.

Whether Eli Manning wants to have him back or not, Manning should understand by now that he is simply not as good a quarterback without Plaxico as he was with him.  While Eli Manning has thrown for over 4,000 yards the last two seasons, the reality is that he’s lost his security blanket, his “I can throw it up in the air and my guy can win the jump ball” protection, his wide-open-to-win-the-Super-Bowl guy.  Since being the Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning and the Giants are a mediocre 20-18 with only one playoff game, a woeful 23-11 loss to the Eagles after the 2008 regular season.

The notion that Eli Manning was an elite NFL quarterback after that miraculous Super Bowl win has given way to the reality that Eli Manning is a good to very good NFL quarterback.  In no way does he rank with the top five quarterbacks in the NFL (no matter what five QBs are on your list).

TIME FOR PLAXICO BURRESS TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR

Can Plaxico live by the rules of Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants?  Hard to say.  But Plaxico has said all of the right things since being released from prison.  At least publicly, he seems contrite and seems to have learned his lesson.  Prison will do that to you. 

It says here that Plaxico clearly understands what he’s lost and clearly understands that he is getting a second chance.  Reportedly his wife loves New York and that could be a key behind-the-scenes factor in all of this.  Would being exposed to the New York nightlife put Plaxico at risk again?  Well, he’d have to be the dumbest man on earth to fall into that trap again.

And it says here that Plaxico Burress is not a stupid man.

As for the “he’s lost a lot after two years” theory, that’s not as important as it may seem.  Plaxico Burress was never a speed burner.  This isn’t about “has he lost a step.”  As discussed above, Plaxico Burress is still 6’5” and THAT’S his advantage.  He hasn’t lost the ability to run routes and jump for lobs or fades from Eli Manning (or any QB, for that matter).

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STEELERS?

The Steelers might actually be a better fit for Plaxico.  You see, Byron Leftwich, the back-up Steeler QB, is good friends with Burress.  In fact, Leftwich is one of the QBs that has been throwing to Burress to help him get back in shape (and don’t forget that the lockout arguably helped Plaxico Burress more than any other free agent because Burress couldn’t get the best reps possible in a prison yard and no team could fill their roster until now).  When asked if he had to “sell” Burress on coming to the Steelers, Leftwich said he didn’t, essentially saying that the Steelers win and that sells itself to a guy like Burress.

With a scheduled meeting   with Mike Tomlin after his meeting with Tom Coughlin, you don’t have to be a relationship analyst to understand that Burress might hit it off better with Tomlin than trying to overcome the baggage (on both sides) with Tom Coughlin.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

While, according to reports, there are other teams potentially in the mix, like Philadelphia or St. Louis, it says here that it will either be the Giants or the Steelers.  On the field, the Steelers are probably a better fit for Plaxico.

But if the lure of New York calls out to Plaxico and his wife, he may very well wind up back with the Giants.

The fascinating stuff continues at warp speed in the “new” (for this season only) NFL.  

© Copyright 2011 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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