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Wan'Dale Robinson
NFL

Wan’Dale Robinson Showing What Makes Him Special

  • Jack McKessy
  • November 20, 2022
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The New York Giants’ loss at home to the Detroit Lions on Sunday was an ugly one. If there was one bright spot for the Giants, though, it was rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who had something of a breakout game going before he went down with a knee injury.

Robinson had been a crucial part of the Giants’ plans for their offense since he was drafted in April. For a new regime that was taking over a team lacking offensive weapons, Robinson represented the start of a new offensive vision and identity. The idea that the rookie was a clear part of the future of the offense became even more apparent when New York traded away 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney, a receiver with a similar skill set, ahead of the trade deadline a few weeks ago. On Sunday against the Lions, that investment in Robinson and his future started to look like the right move.

The rookie got more looks than he ever had against Detroit, securing nine of his 13 targets for 100 yards, all career highs. He also took a jet-sweep handoff for four yards to put his total production for the day at 104 yards from scrimmage. With that level of production, Robinson became the first Giants receiver with a 100-yard game this season and the first to do so since Toney in Week 5 of last season.

Similarly to how the Kansas City Chiefs have used Toney since he joined their squad, the Giants have been giving Robinson manufactured looks to get the ball in his hands and let him create. As a 5-foot-8, 178-pound receiver, Robinson is more of a shifty, yards-after-catch playmaker than one who can consistently win on the perimeter. As such, New York’s game plan for him against the Lions was to find creative ways to put him in space and let him use his agility and good vision to generate yards.

On the Giants’ first drive of the day, that meant giving Robinson a short slide route to the flat with quarterback Daniel Jones trailing him on a play-action bootleg. After a little bump to a defender to help sell the run, the rookie slid back to the outside and found himself wide open, in part thanks to a good route combination that sent the tight end deep on a vertical route, bringing the outside cornerback with him. It was an easy catch and run from there with Robinson turning on the jets for an 18-yard gain to set up 1st-and-goal for his team. The Giants scored a couple of plays later.

On another play, the Giants got their rookie open with a route across the formation to leave him open for a short catch and long run out of play-action with quarterback Jones once again trailing him to his side of the field. With the rest of the downfield action happening on the other side of the field, Robinson had nothing but green grass in front of him once he caught the pass, and with his speed, no one was close to him before he gained an easy 20 yards after the catch.

As the game went on, Robinson started to make his mark in other ways, not just with manufactured touches but with good route-running, separation, and awareness of the Lions’ zone concepts that left him open further downfield. The rookie ran a few nice zone-beating routes that left him open and gave the Giants some solid yardage before the catch in addition to everything Robinson added after throughout the game.

Against Detroit, Wan’Dale Robinson started to come into his own as everything the Giants hoped he’d be when they drafted him earlier this year. The production after the catch, good separation, and great instincts on zone-beating route concepts were all there. The only problem now is that New York might not have him for the rest of the season after a scary knee injury. Combined with a tough loss, it was a bitter end to an otherwise sweet day for Wan’Dale Robinson.

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Jack McKessy