Commentary

Gotta keep Plax from going to the birds

Scoring on Eagles' super secondary will be easier if Giants have their old 6-5 target

Updated: July 30, 2011, 7:09 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Not long after a division rival stunned the NFL by signing the most-coveted free agent on the market, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin sat down with Plaxico Burress for the first time since 2008 to see if a reunion was possible.

After that, Burress met with general manager Jerry Reese and co-owner John Mara as the Giants tried to figure out if they can co-exist with their equivalent of an ex who absolutely ripped their hearts out on the night he accidentally shot himself in a Manhattan nightclub.

Now the Giants need to make sure their ex doesn't diss them for the neighborhood bully. A source close to Burress says the wideout has his eyes on the Philadelphia Eagles, who signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to a five-year, $60 million contract on Friday night.

[+] EnlargeNhamdi Asomugha and Plaxico Burress
Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibraryIt'll be best for the Giants if Nhamdi Asomugha has to cover Plaxico Burress in NFC East games, not Eagles practice.

Forget about the Lady Gaga trash talk between Osi Umenyiora and LeSean McCoy and all the bravado in this rivalry. If the Giants don't make a significant move beyond trying to re-sign their own free agents, the gap between these NFC East teams will only widen. The Eagles are pulling away from their division rivals the way Michael Vick glided past Giants defenders in that disastrous 38-31 loss at the new Meadowlands last year.

Let's look at this in simple terms: The Eagles have beaten the Giants six straight times, including a 2008 playoff game. They've now added Asomugha, one of the game's true lockdown, shutdown, all-world cornerbacks.

"It is just one man," Reese said when asked about the Asomugha signing. "We love competition and he's a terrific football player. I'm just worried about the New York Giants."

There's certainly a lot that can happen this season, so we shouldn't crown the Eagles just yet. DeSean Jackson is holding out and he's a major piece in their championship puzzle. Still, the Giants are going to need more weapons to match their chief tormenters in the division.

The Giants' offensive line is a question mark after Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Shawn Andrews were released. Is Will Beatty ready to handle the left tackle position? Can David Baas replace O'Hara at center?

The Giants still have to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss. And then there's Umenyiora, who was placed on the reserve/did not report list and will be in Day 2 of a holdout on Saturday. A source said Umenyiora is not expected to be in camp for the team's first practice.

"I think we have a good portion of our roster in place right now," Reese said when asked how comfortable he is with the roster. "We like the guys we have right now. We are still working on it and trying to fill a couple more holes that we have. We have a couple more guys that we are waiting to hear from, but right now we like where the roster is. Obviously, there is still some work to do."

The Eagles just made Reese's job harder. They are patting themselves on the back for wooing the prettiest girl at the dance and the Giants have to make sure they're not left standing in the corner, twiddling their thumbs.

Reese typically has a plan, but you have to wonder if the Eagles have created more urgency.

At the moment, the Eagles have three Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie. Even if they were to trade Samuel, Eli Manning has to find a way to throw on Asomugha, who we can only assume will be matched up on Hakeem Nicks.

Rodgers-Cromartie could be on Mario Manningham or, assuming the Giants re-sign him, Smith. But will Smith be the same after undergoing microfracture knee surgery in December?

No one knows how Burress will perform this season after serving nearly two years in prison on a gun charge. But does Coughlin want to find out with Burress in an Eagles uniform?

Vick scrambling out of the pocket, breaking down Perry Fewell's defense only to lob a pass to the 6-5 Burress should be a terrifying thought.

The Giants lost two heartbreaking games to the Eagles last season by a total of 17 points. But really they couldn't get out of their own way with turnovers and one meltdown for the ages.

Now Eli has to fix his interception problem with two meetings against Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie and possibly Samuel?

We're only in the first week of free agency so the Giants still have more moves to make. But they can help Manning and their cause a great deal by doing everything they can to re-sign his old 6-5 target and add more playmakers.

Otherwise, 2011 could bring even more Philly heartbreak for the men in Blue.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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