EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This is a thing that really shouldn't be a thing, but the New York Giants are 0-3 and that means everything's kind of a thing. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was standing at his locker after Sunday's 38-0 loss to the Panthers, trying politely to answer questions about why he didn't catch any passes. Nicks didn't seem at all angry or upset, but one of several things he said, "I can't throw it to myself."
Out of context, this is a quote that could reflect a receiver unhappy with his quarterback for not throwing him the ball. Out of context is how it was presented to Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who said he would speak to Nicks about it.
"That's not a smart thing to say," Coughlin said Monday. "He's on the field. The quarterback was sacked seven times. That's not a smart thing to say."
Again, I was standing right next to Nicks when he said it, and I detected no selfish or complaining motive. He was getting a lot of questions about why he didn't catch any passes and why he was only targeted once in the game. The gist of his answers certainly incorporated the fact that Eli Manning took seven sacks and the offense couldn't get anything going.
But that didn't stop Manning from having to answer questions about it Monday, because as I said, it's now a thing.
"Any time a receiver doesn't get a reception, it's tough," Manning said. "I like for all of my receivers to be happy. He knows I have great confidence in him, and trust, and he'll get back and have great games for us."
And Nicks knows that. He's in a contract year and obviously would like to be producing more. And since Sunday's game was in Carolina, where he grew up and went to college (he even sported a sharp Carolina-blue sport coat after the game), he likely would have preferred to have a big game in front of his friends and family. But having seen and heard players pout and complain about their roles and their involvement, I promise you this wasn't that. It's not as though Manning was throwing the ball all over the field and Nicks was the only one not getting his. Manning only completed 12-of-23 passes for 119 yards.
"You've got to control what you can control," Nicks said Sunday. "You've got to step up and be a playmaker when you're called on, and that's what I'll continue to do."