Roger Lewis has earned a larger role in the Giants' offense
The New York Giants need to get wide receiver Roger Lewis more involved going forward.
Roger Lewis was the New York Giants' unexpected hero in their 27-23 Week 6 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
When star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had to leave the game briefly with a hip injury, Lewis replaced him and proceeded to make the play that flipped the momentum for the Giants' offense.
On a third-and-4, with just 2:28 remaining in the first half, after the Giants had punted or turned the ball over on four straight possessions, Manning connected with Lewis on a 24-yard touchdown pass.
The throw was perfect even though there was heavy pressure, but don't sleep on Lewis' route. He creates early separation from the defensive back before breaking to the corner with the right angle to keep the safety from converging on the pass.
He's lined up in the slot on the right, take a look:
Eli isn't having the best season but this TD throw is phenomenal. Gets literally no protection from his LT and his RT is in his lap. pic.twitter.com/UeF2aGmFCe— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) October 18, 2016
Lewis' touchdown changed the dynamic for a Giants offense that had struggled to create big passing plays over the past two games.Lewis came awfully close to scoring another touchdown for the Giants on a play that probably should have resulted in a pass interference penalty on the defensive back covering him:
Really? pic.twitter.com/S1WawiscvO— RegularSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) October 16, 2016
He finished the game with just one reception, but it was a big one from a historical standpoint. The touchdown marked Manning's 300th in his career -- something only eight quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished.
After the game, Lewis perfectly recapped his journey in one Tweet:
went from wearing a Eli Manning in jersey in middle school to catching his 300th touchdown pass...God Working...— Roger Lewis (@OttoLewis_) October 16, 2016
The Giants signed Lewis as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Bowling Green. Although Lewis put up video game numbers in 2015 with 85 receptions for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns, he fell out of the draft due to off-field concerns. In just two seasons at Bowling Green, Lewis finished with 158 receptions, 2,638 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns in just 28 games.
The Giants took a chance on him after the draft and it didn't take long for him to start moving up the depth chart. A training camp injury to Victor Cruz led to an opportunity for Lewis to take first-team snaps with Manning and the Giants' first-team offense. His strong play in practice translated in the preseason, but Lewis was overshadowed by another impressive young receiver -- Tavarres King.
Although King flashed in the preseason, it says a lot that the Giants went with Lewis in Week 6 when Beckham briefly exited the game. Lewis offers the Giants an outside threat with the ability to get over the top and make plays in the deep passing game. He did it consistently at Bowling Green and he has done so in just a few opportunities so far with the Giants.
Ben McAdoo and the Giants' coaching staff to find ways to get Lewis on the field. With the Giants' tight ends struggling as both pass blockers and receivers, it makes sense for McAdoo to start working in more personnel packages featuring four wide receivers. Lewis is ready for the challenge and the Giants can use another dynamic threat on the field at all times.
After the win, Manning revealed that even before Lewis replaced Beckham, the Giants had plans to get him on the field with their top three wide receivers.
"Good to get Roger," Manning told reporters after the game. "He’s been doing a good job; he did some good things at training camp and early on. He’s kind of waited for his opportunity to get in there. We had some things where he wasn’t able to get in anyway with some four receiver stuff, but today he pops in there and all of a sudden – a good job of knowing the offense and knowing the plays – not really a play we’ve run a whole lot, but we put it in this week. He stepped up and knew what to do and did a good job to beat man coverage and making a catch and getting a touchdown. So a big play at that time with a third down conversion and a touchdown."
Four wide receiver personnel groupings aren't the only way to get Lewis involved. The Giants have struggled to get consistent production out of Victor Cruz as an outside wide receiver. Although Cruz doesn't look like he's lost a step or anything like that, he made a name for himself in the slot. Cruz has never experienced an extended stretch of success on the outside.
It's at least worth exploring if Lewis can provide the Giants with a boost on the outside by mixing him in with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard in their 11 personnel package that they use almost exclusively.
All Lewis can do is step up and make plays when given the opportunity. So far he has done that. Now it's on the Giants to get him more opportunities going forward.
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