One of the more interesting story lines for the New York Giants heading into the 2013 season was and continues to be the play and health of standout wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. It goes without saying that Nicks’ perception amongst Giants pundits and fans alike is two-fold: his mind-blowing raw talent combined with his struggles to stay on the field make him one of the most compelling players on the Giants roster.
The buzz heading out of training camp surrounding Nicks was positive, as the fifth-year receiver seemed to be fully healthy (and just as important, confident in his health) and poised for a huge season. Sometimes Nicks' injuries are of the very frustrating and mind blowing variety. Take for example this week, as Nicks seemed to dodge a bullet with his Q2 finger dislocation not appearing to be all too serious.
Although a small sample size, we will take a look at some of his stats through two games as told through the scope of PFF premium stats. After earning a grade of 1.7 in week one against Dallas, Nicks received a -0.8 in last Sunday’s home loss versus Denver. So far this season Nicks has been targeted a total of 15 times resulting in nine catches totaling 197 yards, one drop, and one interception.
Digging deeper, one of the more impressive stats through the first two games this season has been Nicks’ ability to run after the catch. He currently ranks tenth amongst wide receivers with 90 yards after the catch and seventh with a YAC/rec of 10.0. When Nicks was at his best, (2011, particularly down the stretch and into the playoffs) he was a threat to take it for six every time he touched the ball.
A lot of that success has to do with finding ways to get Nicks the ball over the middle on slant and crossing type routes Anyone who watches the Giants every Sunday can make this inference. But let's use some PFF data to really get a feel for how big a part of Nicks' game this really is.
Through two games this season Nicks has gained 160 of his 197 yards (81.2%) in the "10-19 yards down the middle third of the field" area (a way PFF breaks down each player's receptions). It really is that simple with No. 88. Eli and the coaching staff knows what works for Nicks: get him the ball over the middle of the field and let him do the rest of the work. When Nicks is right, this seems to be an easy task for him, Eli and the rest of the Giants offense.
(As always, big thanks to the team at PFF who provide us bloggers and fans with the best and most detailed look at the NFL)