July 25, 2012

Cauz: Time to show Nik Lewis some much deserved love

With apologies to JC Sherritt …but what an unbelievable weekend it was for offence.

Every quarterback was throwing for 325+ yards and multiple touchdowns, a whole host of running backs were racking up tons of yardage while Chris Williams just might be the scariest player in the league.

Lewis Flexing his Muscle

Through four games this season, Nik Lewis has averaged 90.4 yards per game, and a league-best 6 TD receptions.

There are so many developments in the land of the Wide Receiver. 22-year-old Chris Matthew is leading in yardage, Andy Fantuz is getting a ton of press as the big name free agent, Geroy Simon just broke Milt Stegall’s record and everyone loves watching the 2,398 ways Weston Dressler picks apart a zone. (By the way that wasn’t code for Dressler is slow. The guy can fly.)

With so much attention going around to so many athletes I’d like to give some love to the most reliable of all the receivers in the league, Nik Lewis.

Vicki Hall wrote a nice piece on Nik so please allow me to piggy back on her column.

Watching Calgary during the Burris days it would usually be Romby Bryant or Ken-Yon Rambo who made the highlight play, they, along with Joffrey Reynolds would be the ones that would so often catch your eye.

But if you dug a little deeper it was Lewis who was the real lynch pin behind the offence. He may not have blazed past the secondary en route to a 30-yard touchdown, but I bet he converted two 2nd-and-8’s on the said scoring drive.

Let’s face it, the speed guys are far more fun to watch and you’ll see them on the highlight reels with greater frequency, but they’re not always the most reliable. The key for Lewis is he never really had that blazing speed to begin with.

Now don’t get me wrong, being blessed with a 4.3 40-yard dash is mighty handy, but that raw athleticism can often be a crutch for many a young wide out, or an excuse for not running crisp routes.

Also the speed guys usually don’t have the same longevity, because once that 4.3 turns into a 4.7 the next step is the inevitable loss of employment. Here’s the best way to put it, having world class speed is like being the really hot guy as a freshman in high school. When it comes to meeting (I’m using “meeting” to mean a whole hosting of verbs, just use your imagination) girls the hot guy really doesn’t need to work as hard.

The great looking guy can easily get by without developing a real sense of humour or any of the other tricks 17-year-olds use to woo women that are way beyond their league.

But when you’re 15 and you look in the mirror and realize you have been given average looks (on a good day) well, you have to work on every aspect of your “game” if you would like to “meet” women.

While this stinks in high school in can pay dividends down the road when the hot guy has developed a gut and doesn’t know how to talk to women while the rest of us have at least developed some modicum of skills.

I hope you are catching the drift of what I am saying, and yes that past paragraph was more than a little semi-autobiographical.

Well that same convoluted analogy can be used to explain much of the success of Lewis.

Lewis has always been about reading defences, running the right routes, breaking tackles and of course the occasional push off. This is not to say he doesn’t have speed, he has enough, it’s just that you wouldn’t want to put money on Lewis in a 100-yard dash against any of the top wide outs in this league. But if you put the 10 best receivers on a basketball court, I guarantee you Lewis will come down with the most rebounds. He’s the Charles Barkley of the CFL, using every conceivable angle and his relentless physicality to beat defensive backs and linebackers play after play.

On top of that the guy is durable. He broke in with the team in 2004 and immediately led Calgary in every important statistical category for a receiver while winning CFL Rookie of the Year.

Since then, do you ever remember a season where Lewis missed significant time?

Of course, cheering for Lewis is more than just his ability to beat a double team. It’s his thoughtful blogs, his charity work and about 17 different nicknames, most of which I have no idea what they mean. He’s got his own twitter group (@NikLewisNation), his own lounge (Lew Lew) and is one of the funniest athletes you will ever meet.

Thankfully we have the glory of video to help punch home just what kind of a player Lewis is. He’s the guy that will sacrifice his body for his teammates while destroying the body of an opponent.

He’s more of hurdler than a sprinter
and when the game is on the line he will always find a way to get open despite the fact that everyone on the sidelines and in the stands knows that #82 is going to be the first option.

Forget about the damage he inflicts on linebackers, what about the CFL career receiving mark? Nik is only 30 years of age; just imagine if the slowest WR on the field ends up passing Geroy Simon somewhere down the road?