Six-foot-1. Meh, could do better. Just about average.
208 pounds. Meh, could do better. Just about average.
4.53 40-yard dash. Actually not that good. Kind of slow.
He's no Amani Toomer. He's no Plaxico Burress. He's no Victor
He's the forgotten man in the national media, who are slobbering over Dez Bryant's
"potential" or salivating over Desean Jackson's speed. He's never, ever
mentioned among the top WRs in the game. Hell, he's almost an afterthought when
talking about these WRs anyway.
We've got rookies ahead of him in that blasted NFLN Top 100. It's not Eli Manning
that's the Rodney Dangerfield of this New York Giants
team, its this team's number 1 WR: Hakeem
Let's take a look at Hakeem Nicks' stats for his first three years and
compare them to WRs that are often thought of as "good as", "better than," or my
personal favorite..."have a much higher ceiling than" our superstar.
First, lets look at Hakeem Nicks:
2009 (14 games): 47 rec, 790 yards, 16.8 YPC, 6 TDs
2010 (13 games): 79 rec, 1052 yards, 13.3 YPC, 11 TDs
2011 (15 games): 76 rec, 1192 yards, 15.7 YPC, 7 TDs
Now, a player that is often regarded as one of the top WRs in the game, Vincent
(last 3 healthy years):
2008 (16 games): 59 rec, 1098 yards, 18.6 YPC, 7 TDs
2010 (15 games): 68 rec, 1167 yards, 17.2 YPC, 9 TDs
2011 (16 games): 60 rec, 1106 yards, 18.4 YPC, 9 TDs
Let's take a look, now, at Desean Jackson's
first 4 years in the
2008 (16 games): 62 rec, 912 yards, 16.6 YPC, 2 TDs
2009 (15 games): 62 rec, 1156 yards, 18.6 YPC, 9 TDs
2010 (14 games): 47 rec, 1056 yards, 22.5 YPC, 6 TDs
2011 (15 games): 58 rec, 961 yards, 16.6 YPC, 4 TDs
is often thought of as Hakeem Nicks' main rival:
2009 (15 games): 56 rec, 773 yards, 13.8 YPC, 4 TDs
2010 (16 games): 70 rec, 964 yards, 13.8 YPC, 10 TDs
2011 (13 games): 63 rec, 859 yards, 13.6 YPC, 5 TDs
And now my favorite, Dez Bryant
, ye of greater fame but lesser
2010 (12 games): 45 rec, 561 yards, 12.5 YPC, 6 TDs
2011 (15 games): 63 rec, 928 yards, 14.7 YPC, 9 TDs
As you can see, just based on the raw stats here, Nicks is awfully close to
VJax. If he stays healthy, his numbers look pretty much identical. He's
outplayed Desean Jackson last year, and their career stats look pretty
comparable. Nicks ends up beating out Maclin every year and destroys Bryant as
well. So much for that.
But those are just raw stats. Volume stats, if you want to be fair about it.
Take a look at this great fanpost here by AntonioNickerson, a Cowboys
Dez's Production vs All 1st Round Picks Since 2005 Through First
It was intended as a post for Dez Bryant, but it proves Nicks' brilliance
just a bit more. It compares production of 1st round WRs through 2005 in their
first two years. Hakeem Nicks was among the top performers in all categories,
but what really took me by surprise that Nicks has led those WRs in TDs per
game and Yards per game
. And yes, this list includes the current top WR in
the league, Calvin
FootballOutsiders, which has its own methods of determining success via their
DYAR stat, ranked Nicks as the 6th best WR in the league in 2010, and 9th in
2011. You can find their stats and methodology here:
Taking a closer look into last year's numbers, what made what Nicks did so
impressive is when he produced his plays. When the Giants were behind, an
astonishing 74.2% of his catches went for 1st downs.
When behind, he had
13 plays of 20+ yards and 3 of 40+.
He did his best work in the 4th quarter, with 4 TDs (more than any other
and 7 catches of 20+ yards
(more than any other quarter). We
credit Eli Manning for being incredibly clutch. He can't do it alone.
On top of that, Nicks is consistent.
In the past two years, he's had
only 6 games of less than 50 yards.
That's it. For the most part, he's
always shown up to play, and almost always produces.
Finally, I'd be remiss without talking about Nicks' performance in the
playoffs. Just take a look at this:
vs ATL: 6 rec, 115 yards, 2 TDs
vs GB: 7 rec, 165 yards, 2 TDs
vs SF: 5 rec, 55 yards, 0 TDs
vs NE: 10 rec, 109 yards, 0 TDs
444 yards (2nd most in NFL playoff history
- behind only the great Larry
). 4 TDs. 3 out 4 games surpassing 100 yards (and the one game he
didn't he was injured early in the game).
Everybody remembers Mario Manningham's catch from the Superbowl, but Nicks
had the quietest 100 yard game in recent memory. Nicks is a statistical monster,
even if nobody realizes it. It's not easy to be a 1200 yard WR in this league,
yet Nicks achieved just that last year (well almost, but we can round up 8
Okay, so we looked at the statistical aspect of Nicks' game. Let's look at
some games of his (the ones available on YouTube by the very great resource
I've described what I look for in a WR in this fanpost about Rueben Randle,
Randle and WR Film Study
Let's take that methodology and look at some plays and why I think Nicks is
Hakeem Nicks vs Cardinals
So what we'll do here is just take a small tour of a couple games of Nicks,
starting with a very recent example in the Arizona desert. Forward to about
0:50. A small example of his adjustment skills. He will dive, jump, muscle, and
squeeze his way to any ball within his catch radius. In this one, he's battling
a contested ball with the Cardinal corner, and has the wherewithal to stretch
out and jump for the catch.
Now forward to 1:20, for one of his favorite plays, the WR bubble screen.
He's extremely slippery, and extremely strong. These plays are almost always at
least 7-8 yard gainers for that reason, he can make moves in that limited tunnel
and have the strength to fight off the first one or two guys that come after
He's got one of these plays every game that make you say "Ughhh.
Unbelievable!" but not in the Al Michaels/Chris Collinsworth way. Just a thing
of absolute beauty and power. Completely contested play, he had no business
catching that ball, nor staying on his feet. That is what makes Hakeem Nicks so
special. That combination of his adjustment to the ball, his physicality at the
point of the catch, his strength to maintain the catch, and his balance to stay
up and get extra yardage.
Hakeem Nicks vs Dallas (2010) (via NYGiantsCentral
First off, let me be the first to say I got really pissed off when Troy
Aikman said that Nicks is the Giants' version of Dez Bryant. No. No. NO. Dez
Bryant can only hope to be what Hakeem Nicks already is. He starts off this
video with a quick snapshot as to why he is a top WR.
Let me put it bluntly, Hakeem Nicks' blend of route running and body
control is virtually unmatched by anybody else in this league.
The only two
players I'd put above him in this regard are Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson
both of whom are not human in their adjustment to the ball as well as their
precision route running. Nicks showed that body control in this play. He's not
the biggest WR at 6'1, 208, but he plays like he's 6'4 230. He starts off with a
stutter move, quick slant on the outside, and the back shoulder throw by Eli is
thrown before Nicks even turns around. He times it perfectly, gets elevation,
and blocks out the corner for a perfectly indefensible pitch and catch.
The very next play in the video shows how he gets separation with his route
running. He's not the fastest guy on the field, but he's got what I call "hidden
speed." His cuts are based on timing, and they are so precise that his
connection with Eli allows him to catch the ball as soon as he breaks out of
cut, without having to wait.
We see that here.
Don't even get me started on his strength while catching the ball. He's about
as strong at the point of the catch as any WR I've ever seen. If its in his
mitts, chances are he's going to hold on to the ball. We see that strength again
at 2:05. Just so difficult to bring down during and after the catch.
Please watch 2:37 of this video now
. No explanation needed. Seriously,
just go watch it. Want to talk about catch radius? Yeah.
The biggest problem with Hakeem comes at around 2:50. He'll have those easy
drops sometimes. Not too many times, but just lapses in concentration. He's
nowhere close to Roddy White
in that respect, but just something to improve on.
As for the last play in the video, it didn't count because of a holding (much
to the glee of our announcers no doubt), but Nicks rolls up everything that
we've been talking about right there.
Hakeem Nicks vs Texans
Here's a game versus the Texans. Go on over to the 2nd play or so. Another
beautiful example how he strong enough to post up on the defender (in this case,
1st rounder Kareem
) and take him out of the play.
Move on over to 1:08
, and by now I think the Texans realized that
they're going up against cheatcode. His hands are SO FREAKING BIG. Again, we see
that adjustment to the ball, leap up, recover, maintain balance, take a great
angle to the sideline, use a little wiggle, and get a massive gain. That just
isn't fair. He plucks the ball from the air at its highest point almost like a
Oh c'mon now. 1:25. Just stop it, Hakeem, you're scaring the
Do you guys want one more? One more? Aw, why not.
Hakeem Nicks vs Green Bay (2011) (via NYGiantsCentral
- Once again shows his ability to separate when he NEEDS to
separate. Separation doesn't mean maintaining a 5 yard cushion against the DB.
It means when its time to catch the ball, your arms and the ball are away from
the defender. Nicks' physicality provides a great way to create separation.
Though he's sneaky fast, its his great hands and strength that got him with this
one. Unfortunately he didn't stay inbounds, but that was amazing.
What also makes Hakeem so dangerous is that not only is he a great possession
receiver, but he can be an equal powerful deep threat. He tracks the ball in the
air as well as anyone. We see that at 1:00. We also see that strength to hold on
to the ball once it lands in his hands.
And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention 2:20.
tracking of the ball, great hands, amazing body control.
At this point, I sound like a broken clock. But hell, it works. You don't
always need speed to separate. You need those adjustment skills, that strength,
that body control. That's uncoachable.
I'm looking to see Hakeem (with more coverage rolled over to Victor Cruz) to
really light this league on fire this year. 1300+ yards with double digit
touchdowns should be attainable for him if he can stay healthy. Maybe this year
is the year he finally gets his respect."
"I can't wait for football
season to come around, so I can kind of relax and focus on football," Cruz told the Virginian-Pilot
This is the kind of thing you have to worry about with Cruz, whose 1,536
yards set a single-season franchise receiving record last season, and whose
Salsa dancing touchdown celebrations made him a beloved figure among Giants
Even though Cruz also said "I want to stay the same person as I was when I
was walking the streets of Patterson. Not let this get to my head, just remain
myself, and all the good things will continue to happen' you have to worry about
how well a 25-year-old who has never had this kind of spotlight handles the
glare and all of the outside commitments (which were listed by PFT) and prepares
properly for the upcoming season.
Little lapses in concentration or small differences in physical conditioning
can make a huge difference at the highest levels of any sport. Cruz seems to
have kept everything in perspective, but only time will truly tell us how well
he handles his success."2007 GIANTS VS. 2011 GIANTS: COMPARING SUPER BOWL CHAMPS - LINEBACKERS
"As we continue our position-by-position comparison of the 2007 and 2011 New
Super Bowl-winning teams we come to the linebacker position.
This is an interesting comparison, showing defenses that were vastly
different. The '07 Giants had Antonio
as every-down linebackers, with Reggie Torbor
seeing some action. The 2011 Giants had Michael Boley
and Kiwanuka, but used a plethora of other linebackers, especially in the
Here is a look at the stats.
2007 Regular Season
Antonio Pierce, MLB -- 103 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 8 passes
defensed, 1 forced fumble
Mathias Kiwanuka, OLB -- 46 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4
passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
Kawika Mitchell, OLB -- 76 tackles, 3.5
sacks, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles
Reggie Torbor, OLB
-- 39 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed
2011 Regular Season
Mathias Kiwanuka, OLB -- 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 2 passes
defensed, 1 forced fumble
Michael Boley, OLB -- 94 tackles, 1 sack, 3 passes
defensed, 1 forced fumble
, OLB -- 71 tackles, 1 sacks, 5 passes defensed, 1 forced
, MLB (5 games) -- 28 tackles, 1 interception, 2 passes
Greg Jones, MLB -- 27 tackles
I think it's pretty clear that the '07 Giants had the better linebacking
group, mostly because Pierce was superior to anyone the Giants played in the
middle in 2011. Greg Jones and Mark
were young players trying to find their way in the NFL, and Chase
Blackburn did a nice job but he will never be the player Pierce was at his
Boley vs. Mitchell is probably a wash, and Kiwanuka/Torbor is probably about
the same as Kiwanuka/Williams.
Your thoughts, Giants fans?"
MOST IMPORTANT GIANTS" # 2 JASON PIERRE-PAUL
The Timex Performance Center is
unusually quiet this time of summer. In the six weeks between the conclusion of
the Giants’ minicamp and the beginning of training camp, the coaches take their
only extended vacation of the year and the players enjoy family time, traveling
or a myriad other pursuits they can’t engage in when football is in
But not Mark Herzlich
. He has been working out
here on his own four days a week and will continue to do so until the Giants
report to the University at Albany on July 26.
“For me, this is enjoying
myself,” Herzlich said. “If I went somewhere and took weeks off, I’d be mad at
myself that I wasn’t working out, because this is enjoying myself. I come in
here, I’m done by one o’clock, I go back and play with my puppies and go to the
beach, or do something. But if I can get a good workout in everyday throughout
the week then I feel like I’m progressing.”
Herzlich hopes to gain an
advantage – and a starting job. In minicamp, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell
said Chase Blackburn[img]/assets/nflimg/icon-article-link.gif[/img]
“is our guy” at middle
linebacker, in part because “no one’s clearly beaten him out for the position.”
Herzlich, a second-year pro, thinks he can change that and be the starter when
the Giants open their season on Sept. 5 against Dallas.
think I can - that’s my goal,” Herzlich said. “That’s why I’m here every day
working, to try to get that job.
“It’s all a competition. I think the
good thing about the Giants is they want to win and I think whoever gives them
the opportunity to win will be able to start at that position. For me right
now, it is just learning the plays and knowing them, as well as I can so that
way I can go in and let my play speak for itself.”
season was both inspirational and disappointing. He made the team as an
undrafted free agent, continuing his remarkable recovery from Ewing’s sarcoma,
the rare form of cancer he contracted at Boston College, forcing him to miss the
entire 2009 season.
Herzlich played in each of the Giants’ first 11
games, primarily on special teams. He started the last two of those games at
middle linebacker, including a loss on Nov. 28 at New Orleans, where Herzlich
suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season –
including the four-game postseason run that culminated in victory in Super Bowl
Ironically, it was Herzlich’s injury that prompted the Giants to
“It was frustrating,” Herzlich said of his prolonged
absence. “As awesome as it was going through the playoffs and winning all the
games and winning the Super Bowl - obviously it was a dream come true. There’s
still something left on the table for me, personally, because I didn’t get to
play in those games. So it pushes me even harder right now, because I don’t want
that to ever happen again. I don’t want to be watching those games and not
playing in them.”
Herzlich was an every-day participant in the Giants’
offseason conditioning program, OTAs and the minicamp. While his teammates are
certainly working out wherever they are, Herzlich continues to run, lift and put
himself through football drills at the Giants’ complex.
“It’s a good
place to be,” Herzlich said. “I have the field, all the equipment I need, I’ve
got the facility. I had vacation time before OTAs. Now it’s for working out and
getting ready for camp. And that’s what the next five weeks are for to me. On
the weekends I can go and do some things, but I’ll be here during the week
Herzlich is working just as hard mentally as he is
“The biggest thing I’m doing right now is studying because, I
have to be mentally sharp when we get back,” Herzlich said. “That way the
athletic ability can kind of take over.
“I’m watching film and going
over the plays. I took a lot of good notes during the OTAs and I review those
and look at the practice film from the OTAs and look at what I didn’t do well,
what I did do well, what I need to do to get better, and really self-analysis of
what I have to do.”
When he does leave the facility, Herzlich spends much
of his time with his six-month-old English bulldogs. He purchased them from a
breeder near his families Pennsylvania home.
“I’ve wanted dogs forever,
since college,” he said. “This offseason seemed like a great time to get them. I
named the boy Champ, for obvious reasons, and the girl is
Herzlich expects to stay on his current schedule until the Giants
report to training camp.
“I’ll probably cut it down from four workouts a
week to maybe two that week,” he said. “That will give me a little time to rest.
But you don’t want to take too much time off or sit around too much because your
body is used to working at a high level. Then if you stop for a week, you get
lactic acid buildup and you have to go and get two days up in camp to start
“I’m used to year-long training and some people think
you’ve got to take a break to rest. But there’s different sorts of training you
can do which rests certain muscles, rests certain parts of your body, where you
actually stay active. And that’s what I’ve got to do.”
His opportunity to
compete for a starting job might depend on it.
Votes received: Dansby (2nd place), Fennelly (2nd), Johnson (2nd), Orlando
(2nd), Resch (2nd), Stack (2nd), Wagner (2nd), Chachkes (4th), Santucci
There is only one player the Giants simply cannot
afford to lose (if you’re keeping score at home, you know that [SPOILER ALERT!]
we think that player is Eli Manning
), but if the Giants lose JPP for an extended amount
of time, it will be absolutely devastating. In only his second season, this
freak of a man put the Giants’ oft-injured defense on his back and carried them
to respectability until the unit’s other stars were healthy enough to pitch in.
His game-clinching blocked field goal against the Cowboys was a microcosm of his
Technically, he can still use some refinement, which is a scary thought for
the rest of the NFL. If he continues to develop the way he has in his first two
seasons, one could reasonably expect him to take home a Defensive Player of the
Year award in the next few seasons. If this is as far as he will develop, he was
still more than worthy of the 15th overall pick…heck, he’s already playing like
a guy who was taken first overall. I would say the sky is the limit, but then
I’d look like a fool when JPP backflips onto the moon.
About to become the face of the defense.
He has to now play with expectations and with teams
planning to stop him.
Versatile pass rusher who makes plays at the line
and downfield, even contributes on special teams. Defensive POY candidate.
Poised to become one of the best, most dominant
pass rushers in the NFL, Jason is working hard to continue to learn additional
moves. I still can’t believe he’s only playing the game since H.S, the way he
jumps out of the blocks sometimes.
Last year’s defensive MVP. A game changer and
cannot be replaced, regardless if Osi is happy and healthy.
JPP has become the X-factor for the defense. He is
the one opponents fear. They lose him, that element is gone.
JPP might not be the first dominant DE to wear a
blue jersey but he has the potential to be the most dominant of all time.
Analysts feel that he has yet to peak and given the ferocious nature of his
play, that is great news for New York.
I strongly considered putting Tuck here. However, I expect 2012 to be a
breakout season for Pierre-Paul and I think Tuck’s ability to penetrate the
backfield will correlate directly with how the offensive line handles the rush
from JPP’s end of the field.
The letters JPP could have easily translated to some
others, as in DPOY last year (he was in my mind). That, and the fact that the
Giants’ defense revolves around their pass rush makes him indispensable.
Previous posts: #3:
, #6: Michael
who received only one voteNFC EAST BLOG: REDEFINING THE STANCE ON BENNETT
"The other day we pointed you to an article that our NFC East blogger – Jimmy
Kempski – posted on his site,, Blogging the Beast. Jimmy outlined a scenario in
which newly-signed TE Martellus Bennett gets himself cut by the Giants this
I know, it’s a bit of stretch but when you read his new post, you may change
your mind. Not many