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If the Giants Have Changed, Now's the Time to Show It

Giants are 11-13 since Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg

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    Now that the Giants seem to have put their off-field sniping behind them, we can return our focus to the pesky little matter of playing football games.

    The Titans are rolling into town this Sunday and the Giants will have an opportunity to start breaking the mold that they've established over the last 24 games.

    Since Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg on November 28, 2008, the Giants have gone 11-13 in their 23 regular season and one playoff game. That is a long run of almost perfectly average football and the feelings of mediocrity have been bolstered by the way that the Giants routinely knock around weak teams while struggling to even remain on the field with stronger opposition. 

    Why use Plax's shooting as the line of demarcation? Because that was the moment when the Giants stopped being able to take a punch. The team that spent 2007 fighting whispers that the team would be blown up made their bones as a team that would take your best shot, absorb it and then return fire with twice the force. After Burress's departure, they've been good at delivering blows but they've folded up each and every time they've taken one.

    The first two games of this season have done nothing to change that image. The Panthers, who followed up their loss to the Giants with another loss to the Buccaneers, have already benched their quarterback and have all the markings of a team transitioning from the John Fox era to the whoever replaces John Fox shortly after the season draws to an end era. Naturally the Giants, resembling the team of the first five games of the 2009 season, pushed them around and strutted around the field like proud peacocks.  

    Against the Colts, though, it was the Giants of the next 11 games. They were meek and only too happy to hang their heads and slink of the field as soon as possible. And then, in another recurring theme, they spent a lot of time pointing fingers and complaining in the wake of the loss.

    Now come the Titans, a team that's pretty similar to the Giants at this point in time. They slaughtered the Raiders and then fell apart against the Steelers. Like the Giants, they are happy to puff out their chests when things go well, but they also share the Giants predilection for simply giving up in the face of adversity. See Vince Young's performance against the Steelers for all you need to know on that front.

    If the Giants can't figure out a way past teams on the level of the Titans, especially at home, then you really have to wonder if it isn't time to start thinking about shaking things up. No team wants to be 3-13, which is possible when you change directions and leadership, but the difference between that and going 8-8 is really negligible at the end of the day because the latter isn't getting you any closer to a championship.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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