I’m a little shaken up about this, because as a returner and receiver – Hixon is a star on the rise for the Giants… and he will be missed. The news just hit about 20 minutes ago, but already it’s got me thinking about what comes next. So let’s sit down for a minute and unpack what this means for the rest of the season now that we know Hixon is definitely not in the rotation:
• So now who returns punts and kicks? Sinorice Moss, Danny Ware, Antrel Rolle, and Aaron Ross will all be considered. And I don’t care how other teams have successfully used a DB in the NFL — I want someone out there with hands, speed, and down field vision that can think offensively about their decisions… Hixon was the right guy and I think another receiver is the way to go here. So if Moss stays on the team, this is as meaningful a position as he’ll fit into – not that he did anything with his opportunities returning last year. But this is his chance…
• What does the WR depth chart look like now? Here’s a rough cut but this is where I see things based purely on total snaps played last year:
With any progress over the course of the year with a renewed focus on the red zone… hopefully Barden moves up to #4, Hagan feels fine at #5, and Moss is content at #6 and returning punts/kicks.
And this is not a knock on Hixon, but Smith and Manningham are the same types of players – small, quick, elusive… possession receivers that move the chains. Removing one from the top of the rotation may open up the playbook a bit more….
This also may bode well for Travis Beckum in the sense that the Giants are experimenting with how he’ll be used… and the fact that Hixon is no longer an option may play into the way O.C. Gilbride’s playbook is prioritized. You never know — we may see more single back, two tight end sets featured by Boss and Beckum, Nicks and Barden out wide, and Bradshaw the tailback — this may be the new red zone special… tell me defense, where is the ball going?
Perhaps there is a silver lining here, but I’m still a bit sadden by this whole thing. Trying to make the best of it…. good luck to Hixon, see you in 2011.