Tag Archives: Victor Cruz

On Victor Cruz and the New York Giants

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On Monday, the New York Giants signed WR Victor Cruz to a 6-year, $46 million deal. Although it took most of the offseason to get done, everyone who associates themselves with the Giants franchise should be ecstatic. Cruz will be making quite a decent sized paycheck for a number-2 reciever, but the deal also leaves room for General Manager Jerry Reese to potentially sign Hakeem Nicks to a long term deal at the end of the season (barring another health issue).
Finally, Eli Manning and his offense have locked up a viable weapon for the long-term. With the contract drama out of the way, Cruz can focus on shaking off the rust and getting back on the same page with Manning. Although most of the pieces are the same, the offense will have bit of a different look this season, mostly due to the explosiveness that David Wilson brings out of the backfield. I have to imagine that the primary focus of the offense will be working on the chemistry and consistency issues that were the undoing of last year’s team.
If New York is to make a playoff run in 2013, the onus will be on the offense. I don’t believe the defense will be as bad as some expect it to be, but it definitely will not be capable of carrying the load that it did in the Giants’ Super Bowl winning years. The most reliable thing about Perry Fewell’s defense is the group of pass rushers on the line, and they even underperformed last season. Inconsistency was the keyword for last season, as the Giants would lose to the Browns and the Eagles, then go on to thoroughly dominate the NFC Champion 49ers.
New York in the past season looked elite at their best, and unwatchable at their worst – much like the Cowboys in recent years. The talent is there (more so on the offensive side of the ball), but the talent fails to come together and perform on a regular basis.
Why is this? I can’t really answer this question for the defense (poor coaching perhaps), but this issue with the offense stems from the revolving door of players on the offensive line and in the receiving corp. There are capable players in both of these groups, but they have to stay healthy for any sort of chemistry to develop. Because the biggest obstacle to the offense has been injury, I feel more comfortable placing my confidence in them as opposed to the defense.
It’s early yet, but I think the Giants will have to light up the scoreboard to remain competitive in the NFC East. I would argue that Manning’s offense, when rolling on all cylinders, is the best in the division. As we saw last year though, Eli and his receivers had issues with timing and communication about as often as they didn’t. This is going to have to change if the Giants are to right the ship and get back into the playoffs. Signing Cruz is a great step in this process, but it will require a season-long effort to establish and maintain the chemistry that was missing from last year’s unit (not to mention health).


Thoughts on Kevin Gilbride

I’m trying to move past the phase of calling for Kevin Gilbride’s head every time I think he’s being too conservative.  He’s been a part of two Super Bowl winning teams and that says a lot, but far too often I find myself with my head in my hands watching Gilbride’s offense fail to put in the dagger at the end of games.  Monday night is a microcosm of what I have come to expect with Gilbride: the offense is clicking early, Eli is hitting his receivers, and points start to pile up, the Giants seemingly control the pace of the game through the end of the third quarter.


Then, sometimes things go bad.


The offensive game plan becomes this weak attempt to control the ball and the momentum shifts.  Even though Bradshaw may be struggling through three quarters, he will continue to get the ball on a consistent basis.  Gilbride’s play calling completely takes Eli Manning out of the game and relies heavily on obvious runs up the middle with Bradshaw (and formerly Jacobs).  This is frustrating to no end, and a few fellow Giants fans would probably agree with me when I say that his schemes and coaching are holding back the passing game.


Not since 2007 has the running game been effective. It may be because the offensive line has gotten older, or simply that too much is expected from these running backs.  Either way, the ground game is the weaker aspect of this New York Giants attack, yet in key plays late in games, we continue to see Gilbride go back to the run like he trusts it more than his passing game.  I understand that in today’s NFL there must be some sort of balance between run and pass to keep defenders honest, but when your team is built around a quarterback of Manning’s caliber, wouldn’t you think that almost every do-or-die situation should be placed squarely on his shoulders?


I have no problems with running the ball 25 times a game even though it rarely works (I may have a problem with the running back that is getting those carries, but that’s a different story).  But when the team needs a scoring drive to cement the victory, the offense takes its foot off the pedal. These are the worst games to watch because you know exactly how it’s going to end.  I’ve seen it too many times to count, but the two instances that are freshest in my mind are the game from Monday, and the game a few years back when Mathias Kiwanuka failed to bring down Vince Young on a late third down that ended up winning the game.  I feel like he is so committed to his flawed schemes that he sometimes doesn’t adapt to the game.  The faster two-minute offense that we see before halftime and at the end of close games just looks like it fits better than the current system.


I’m sure he has his reasons for calling the games the way he does, but whatever way you cut it, Gilbride isn’t taking full advantage of his personnel.  Am I wrong on this?  Sure, the receiving core could be healthier, but isn’t throwing often to Victor Cruz and a banged-up Hakeem Nicks more effective than Ahmad Bradshaw’s fragile feet rushing it on predictable first and second downs all day?  It’s frustrating to know that nothing is going to change anytime in the foreseeable future, and I needed to vent.