I spent some time earlier this week with game film of the Giants, and one thing that has become apparent to me this season is the impact of Tom Coughlin on the team’s group of wide receivers.
Coughlin entered the league as a wide receivers coach, and generally coaches never really let go of the first position they coach. It’s their first love, and it’s what got them into the league.
Watching the Giants under Coughlin, who I think is a very good head coach, his receivers are as fundamentally and technically sound as any group in the league. I defy anyone to put on tape from this season and find a receiver who runs less than full speed on a route, whether they’re getting the ball or not. Once the ball is coming to them, you won’t see a group of receivers who do the little things — take the ball out of the air, look it into their hands, tuck it way or protect it from defenders — better.
It’s impressive to watch Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham work, and they’re making Eli Manning a better quarterback. He trusts all of them.
One play from last week is a perfect example. Smith caught an 18-yard dig route in which Manning had to throw the ball early and didn’t even see the completion because he got hit so hard. The only reason Smith caught the early pass was because he snapped his head around as he planted his left foot as made a 90-degree break. He wasn’t lazy or slow coming out of his break; it was precision. Anything less, and the ball would have bounced off his face mask and resulted in an incompletion.
There’s also a trust factor developing between Manning and Nicks. The second-year receiver is very strong, has very big hands and is excellent at taking the ball out of the air. In the open field, you can see Nicks is thinking about his next move before his foot hits the ground. He’s an exciting young player. He doesn’t have the ultra speed, but I think he has a very good chance to become an elite receiver.
The Giants’ big win over the Texans was partly the result of these receivers who tend to do every little thing exactly right.
— Brian Baldinger
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