Three Reasons Jimmy Graham is a Top 3 Tight End Again
Jimmy Graham finally had the dominating performance we had been waiting for on Monday night, torching the Bills for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. But why now? Let’s take a look at a few factors that lead to his breakout game.
Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon 12 weeks into the 2016 season and hasn’t quite looked the same since. Graham spent most of the offseason recovering following surgery and slowly worked his way back during training camp. While he was active for Week 1, he didn’t see a full set of snaps the first few games. He’s had some highs and lows this season, but until Monday night we hadn’t seen that breakout performance that reminded us of his days with the Saints when he was unstoppable. His two one-handed touchdown catches were the highlights of the night.
Improved Surgical Technology
Suffering a torn patellar tendon was once a career-threatening injury for NFL players, but that has changed as surgical technology has improved in recent years. It now takes a player around six months to be healthy enough to return to the field, but then it’s another three months to really get back into game-shape. Jimmy Graham has just hit that three-month mark following an August return, so it makes sense that he finally had his breakout game in Week 9. It’s also important that his medical team makes sure he doesn’t return to the field before he is ready, because that’s what can lead to setbacks that can ruin another season. His rehab and recovery following surgery have been textbook so far. The Inside Injuries algorithm has Graham at low risk and peak Health Performance Factor, meaning he’s at the top of his game and is finally fully recovered from the injury.
Russell Wilson is Healthy
Russell Wilson made it through the first four years of his career injury-free, but 2016 has been filled with new experiences for the quarterback. Wilson suffered a grade one right ankle sprain during the first week of the season. Then things got worse when he was diagnosed with a grade two left MCL sprain a few weeks later. He played through both injuries but his mobility suffered, and that’s such a key piece to his game. Without a mobile Wilson, the Seahawks’ offense looked lost, and that of course affected Jimmy Graham. Now Wilson is finally healthy and brace-free on both his ankle and knee. He found the end zone three times, twice connecting with Graham and once rushing on his own. If Wilson and Graham can both stay healthy, this offense could again be one of the scarier ones in the NFL.
The most important factor in Jimmy Graham’s breakout performance is his health. Graham was once the most electric, dominant tight end in the game. Now that he’s healthy again, I’m excited to see if he can battle it out down the stretch with guys like Greg Olsen and Rob Gronkowski to earn that top tight end spot once again.
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