Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Even though Plaxico Burress has been banished from the Giants, he continues to cast a shadow over the organization. If the Giants make it deep into the playoffs in '09, maybe everyone will forget the mercurial (Parcells' favorite word) wide receiver. But for now, one of the most enduring offseason story lines centers on whether or not the Giants can replace his production. Or to be more precise, the respect he commanded on the field.
The Giants don't have anyone like Burress on the roster. Rookie Ramses Barden might resemble him with his frame, but defensive coordinators aren't losing sleep over Barden at this point. Miles Cheang from Bleacher Report thinks the Giants faltered down the stretch in '08 because they came up with lousy game plans. He thinks the Giants had come to rely so heavily on Burress that they had no idea how to adjust when he wasn't in the lineup.
I still tend to think that injuries on defense had just as much (if not more) to do with the Giants' early playoff exit. Fred Robbins and Justin Tuck weren't themselves down the stretch, and the lack of a pass rush suddenly made the Giants vulnerable. Last year, the loss of Burress was obviously a sudden thing. Now, the Giants have had most of the offseason to prepare for a season without their former star.
I think this offense has enough talent to compensate for that loss. But more importantly, the defense should be back at an elite level. When the Giants' offense feeds off the team's defense, that's when things are rolling. Think the '07 playoffs.