New York Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, but we didn't get to see him realize that potential in 2012. After injuring his knee in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Nicks was never able to get back to full strength for the rest of the season. Nicks would finish 2012 with 23 less catches, 500 less receiving yards, four fewer touchdowns and 19 fewer first downs than he did just a year ago.
On Friday, general manager Jerry Reese said that he regrets not having Nicks sit out more games so that the star wideout could play at 100 percent for the stretch run of the season.
"Hakeem Nicks has been one of the linchpins in our offense. He was banged up, and I really think it took its toll on our offense and what we are trying to do," Reese said on ESPN Radio today. "He was trying to fight through it. But in hindsight, I think if we had to think about it again, maybe we would have taken him out a little quicker than we did. But that is neither here or there at this point. But I do think it affected the quarterback's play some."
Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. However, Nicks is the Giants best all-around wide receiver and he was completely incapable of making plays this season that we have grown accustomed to him making in years past. He was a step slower to the football, which inhibited his ability to make plays down the field. He was not as explosive off the line of scrimmage, which made catching balls in traffic an issue. Reese is correct that the team should have sat Nicks if he was not going to be effective anyway.
However, Nicks' injury is not the only instance in which the Giants medical staff mishandled a banged up player. Earlier in the season, Kenny Phillips expressed his dissatisfaction with how the team handled his own knee injury.
“When we started our rehab we didn’t go about it the right way, and now here we are, we’re dealing with it right now,” Phillips said. “I don’t want to get into (specifics). It just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m mad about it. It is what it is. No one’s perfect. I just think we both felt that something needed to change. We needed to change up the rehab. We just felt like we weren’t doing the right things. So we just switched up and it immediately starting feeling better. So I’m here now. I’m not worried about the games that I missed.”
Mishandling injuries to two key playerss on the roster is completely unacceptable by the training staff of a professional sports franchise. The Giants season could have played out differently with a healthy Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Phillips, as the wide receivers and secondary players went dormant at times this season. Both of those players have tremendous impacts on football games and it's a shame that the team was unable to correctly handle their injuries.
Jerry Reese recently said that this team will look different in 2013. It's still too early to say how different, because the evaluation process is still ongoing and free agency has yet to begin. However, perhaps one aspect that should be examined is how the medical staff performed this season. It's hard say if handling the injuries to Nicks and Phillips would have definitively changed the outcome of the Giants season, but it sure could have helped. The Giants had enough issues on the field this season, the last thing they needed were their own hired hands failing them off of it.
Also…ESPN, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, Kenny Phillips, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers