Giants WR Thriving Using Favorite Route of Bills’ All-Pro

Stefon Diggs

Getty A Giants WR is thriving by copying Bills star Stefon Diggs.

Isaiah Hodgins knew he was taking a risk when he swapped the Buffalo Bills for the New York Giants. It was a calculated risk based on earning more playing time, something Hodgins was never going to get as part of a Bills’ wide receiver corps headlined by Stefon Diggs.

Ironically, the latter is the inspiration for Hodgins’ recent prolific performances. He’s become a useful target in the red zone running a route Diggs practiced and perfected on Brian Daboll’s watch, when the Giants’ head coach was offensive coordinator in Buffalo.

Unheralded WR Starting to Make His Mark

Hodgins didn’t see the field much after being drafted by the Bills in the sixth round back in 2020. He made just four catches before joining the Giants off of waivers on November 4.

Since then, Hodgins has made 17 grabs for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The first of those scores, during Week 13’s 20-20 tie with the Washington Commanders, showed Hodgins’ familiarity with Daboll’s offense and what he learned from Diggs.

The play saw “Hodgins put Commanders cornerback Christian Holmes in a blender with a fake-slant-and-out route,” per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.

Hodgins revealed to Dunleavy how Diggs perfected the same route for Daboll: “In Buffalo, if it was a game or a real practice situation, it was Diggs running that route. But I practiced all the time in one-on-one (drills). When I came to the sideline, Dabes said, ‘You’ve been running that route for three years. It’s about time!'”

Emulating an All-Pro and two-time Pro-Bowler like Diggs is a smart move for Hodgins. So is making his experience with the Daboll playbook count.

Daboll’s Pupil Emerging at the Right Time

Timing is a big part of what’s made Hodgins so valuable to the Giants during a difficult run-in. He’s emerged as a target Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones can trust.

Jones doesn’t have many of those within a receiver room lacking star power, durability and consistency. Kenny Golladay has continued to be an expensive flop, starting a mere three games and making just four catches.

Golladay’s inability to live up to the $72 million contract he signed with the Giants in 2021 would be easy to offset if Sterling Shepard and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson were healthy. Instead, both suffered season-ending injuries, with Shepard tearing his ACL when the Giants were beaten 23-16 by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.

Robinson, the team’s second-round pick this year, fell victim to the same ailment eight weeks later against the Detroit Lions. Their absences put pressure on other receivers to step up.

It’s a call that’s been answered by Darius Slayton, a pending free agent who has boosted his stock with some eye-catching performances. Like Slayton, Hodgins has also taken a step forward and given the Giants something different.

Specifically, the 6’4″, 210-pounder is a big body who can win in traffic and make contested catches. He’s the brute-force complement to Slayton’s vertical speed.

Hodgins showed off his physicality for his latest score during Week 14’s 48-22 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles:

Finding pay-dirt against the Eagles continued Hodgins’ upward trajectory as a viable weapon in the passing game for the Giants. His ascendancy is also a reward for the careful approach to rebuilding engineered by Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen.

They dealt with salary cap constraints by going after low-cost free agents to find hidden value in the market. Hodgins is channeling his inner Diggs to provide the Giants exactly what they need.

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