Last season started so well for the Giants. November rolled around and they found themselves 10-1 with victories over each of their divisional rivals. Then, star receiver, Plaxico Burress, shot himself in the leg (by accident of course! Dummy)…at a nightclub. Yes, that actually happened. I know, I know, I still don’t quite yet believe it either. The G-men went on to lose three of their next four games. Eli Manning threw only one TD pass during that stretch and was sacked 12 times. GM Jerry Reese and many Giants are however, optimistic that the new group of receivers will be able to fill the void.
I don’t buy it. Burress gave Manning an escape route on every play. Bad pass? Don’t worry, Plax would use his height (6’6’’) and make something out of nothing. Did Eli Manning just miss high again? He never does that (not)! Oh wait, there goes Plax, snatching the ball from the sky like the play was drawn up that way. His threat forced defenses to double team him, leaving receivers like Steve Smith, Amani Toomer, and Domenik Hixon open. Defenses were also cautious of committing too many players to the rush, as Plaxico’s downfield threat was too great a risk.
Now, he’s gone for good. The Giants are left with a WR corps of Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, David Tyree, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. Smith, although he lead the Giants with receptions last season, does not pose the same type of scoring threat as Burress, as he only had one TD last season. He functions as possession receiver, and I feel the transition from the slot to the Number 1 spot will be too much for him to handle. Hixon provides the Giants with an exciting young prospect, but after Burress’s…accident he struggled to make an impact. His buttered-finger play against the Eagles cost the Giants a touchdown, (and maybe a playoff win as the Eagles probably wouldn’t have made it) and shows he still has a lot to learn. Tyree is back this season, but let’s face it, his only contribution to the team will be the reading of his autobiography (yea, even he has one now…) to the rookie receivers in a feeble attempt to prove he’s important. Moss and Manningham I can’t see making any decent impact, as Moss has underperformed thus far and Manningham didn’t get any meaningful playing time last season. The two rookies are promising and are “full of potential”, but then again, when are they not? Even so, there’s always a shot that one of them will come good this season.
However, I think that player who will surprise the most people in the upcoming season is (drum roll please) Ahmad Bradshaw. The unsung hero of the Giant’s Superbowl run in 2007. Anybody remember him? I’m not saying Bradshaw will make up for Burress’s loss single handedly, but rather that he will be the player that rises to the challenge. He was rarely used by Coughlin last season, which was a little weird -well okay, maybe if he didn’t steal PlayStations and laptops in college, and violate parole, Coughlin would have looked on him more favorably. We all know what a stickler Coughlin is for the rules. I guess Derrick Ward rushing for over 1,000 yards didn’t help either. But with Ward gone, Bradshaw is a lock for much more playing time. He will enter the game after Jacobs pounds the defense into the ground and use his agility and speed to give the offense a new dimension and the defenses a different type of headache. His talent is there and he can use it. This is evident through the playoff run of ‘07, where he led the team in yardage (no easy feat), including an astonishing 42 in the Superbowl. This also proves he can play when it really matters. You heard it here first, Ahmad Bradshaw (Fire of the Earth, Wind and Fire trio) to leave behind the demons of last season and become a vital part of the Giants offense.