Scouts Inc.: Giants can survive without Burress

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Keith Kidd
The last thing the New York Giants need at this point in the season is a distraction that takes the focus away from their quest for another Super Bowl run.

However, head coach Tom Coughlin has a proven formula that revolves around team and not individuals. His team knows how to win games in any conditions, a scary prospect for the rest of the NFL. So how will the Giants handle the assumed absence of wide receiver Plaxico Burress following his gun-related incident over the weekend?
Burress is a talented receiver who led the Giants in receptions (70), yards (1,025) and touchdowns (12) in 2007. Even though his numbers are down this season, he is a solid No. 1 receiver who creates mismatches against most opponents.

By creating advantages for the offense, he forces defenses to account for him from within the formational designs. They can either bracket him or roll the coverage over the top, either of which creates one-on-one situations for other receivers within the Giants' passing game. He is a dangerous player on the outside who poses a lot of problems when adjusting to downfield balls because of his height and long arms.

Burress knows how to use his body and wingspan to gain separation, and his size and arm length give him a huge advantage against smaller corners.

The Giants don't have another target like Burress on the roster, but they have done a great job of getting by without him at times this season thanks to their awesome running game, offensive line and the consistent play of quarterback Eli Manning. New York will count on players such as wide receivers Amani Toomer, Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon, tight end Kevin Boss and running back Derrick Ward to step up and make plays in the passing game.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride runs a balanced attack that relies on the run to force defenses to play eight and sometime nine defenders in the box, which sets up the play-action attack. Time of possession is critical to the Giants' offense, but Gilbride doesn't mind taking chances downfield in the vertical passing game. That forces defenses to react differently in certain situations.

Meanwhile, the Giants have a superb running game with the combination Ward, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs is a load and cannot be brought down by one defender, but is an upright runner who takes as much punishment as he dishes out. Ward is a powerful runner who can be deceptive with his speed, and Bradshaw has a combination of speed, power and elusiveness in open space. Everything starts up front, and the Giants have a very physical and powerful offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage. It is easily the best unit in the league.

This team reminds me of the great teams that I was a part of in New England that won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003-04. With or without Burress, the Giants have bought into Coughlin's plan and won't alter their approach or game plan when attacking defenses over the final weeks of the regular season.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.