After sprinting six yards toward the end zone, Richie James pivoted and waited. It was the second quarter of the playoff-clinching Week 17 win over the Colts, and with the Giants in the red zone, Daniel Jones scrambled from the pocket and bought James time to find more space.
James floated back a few steps. Jones zipped the ball toward his 27-year-old wideout. And when the pair connected for James’ fourth touchdown catch in a seven-game stretch, the Giants took their first lead in what became a 38-10 rout.
In his first season with the Giants, James’ production has ebbed and flowed. He emerged as a top option behind Sterling Shepard early in the season, then went three games with just one combined catch from Weeks 7 through 10. He also had a pair of punt-return fumbles in Week 8 against Seattle. But in the six games since Wan’Dale Robinson’s season-ending ACL tear, James has compiled at least five targets in all but one game and gathered 58 percent of his receiving yards for the season.
Jones told The Post on Thursday that he thinks James has played well, especially in “big-time moments” such as third downs and red-zone plays.
“Knows where to be, knows how to get open,” Jones said. “Got great feel for space in zone. Is really good after the catch, too. He’s been big for us.”
James told Giants.com this week that he has learned about waiting for his turn in the NFL. He told the website he “definitely became impatient” over time, but “I knew as long as you stay with it and stay with the game plan, I’d be perfectly fine.”
James has also added stability to the wide receivers’ room amid season-long shuffling at the position. He has passed along insight and nuggets acquired across his years with the 49ers (he played on the 2019 team that made the Super Bowl) regarding advance route technique and defensive recognition, wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins told The Post.
“He’s done a good job of just being hard on himself and getting that timing down with the quarterback, of just making sure that he’s where he’s supposed to be,” Hodgins said.
James’ recent production has his comfort level at an “all-time high,” Hodgins said, and that benefits Jones and the entire offense — particularly the wide receivers, a unit plagued by injuries and inconsistencies.
“They’ve done a tremendous job, being in the right spot, executing, playing really hard in both in the run and the pass game,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said of James, Hodgins and Darius Slayton. “They’re detail guys, they’re smart guys that you really trust, that are dependable and tough.”