Victor Cruz isn’t blind.
Nor is he oblivious, ignorant or impervious to what the New York Giants displayed on the field Monday night. He knows it wasn’t good, heck, he knows it was downright ugly.
What Cruz, like so many others are, is shocked. Because he, like so many others, never expected the same issues that had plagued the offense the first week of learning Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense to still be affecting the team now.
“I did think those problems would be over and we would be able to get into a rhythm,” Cruz said. “Mainly because we were playing a full four quarters. We were playing more than we had in the preseason.”
One quarter or four, it didn’t matter. Nationally televised for the world to see was exactly what the Giants had done in their previous five preseason games. There was no time for quarterback Eli Manning to throw. There was little separation created by the receivers. And, just like under previous coordinator Kevin Gilbride, there were interceptions due to miscommunication between Manning and his intended target.
Cruz caught just two passes for 24 yards on five targets. If the Giants offense is to turn things around, Cruz doesn’t think coaches need to look far for a solution.
Taking a chapter out of Keyshawn Johnson’s playbook, Cruz wants to be thrown the ball.
“There needs to be an increased number of targets in my direction and other play-makers’ directions,” Cruz said. “That all comes with the continuity. That comes with getting the running game going. That comes with building what we want to build as the game continues.”
Despite the Detroit Lions secondary being ravaged by injury, the Giants were unable to take advantage, especially Cruz’s receiving counterpart, Rueben Randle. Playing his first game in an offense that was supposed to benefit the former second-round pick, Randle was as big of a non-factor as a team can have. There was no more excuse of the complexity of ‘reading the defense’ like in the previous offense.
Randle simply didn’t get separation. Manning went his way three times. The result? Two catches for one yard. Jerrel Jernigan was targeted seven times, Rashad Jennings five and Larry Donnell eight.
“I think it was just the way the game unfolded,” Cruz said. “I don’t think it was anything deliberate or [Eli] wasn’t looking his way. I just think it was the way the coverages panned out, and there were a lot of the plays we were calling that were being shifted over to JJ’s side.”
This coming Sunday, Randle, Cruz and Manning will look to establish something, anything, against an Arizona Cardinals defense flying high following a season-opening win against the San Diego Chargers.
The Cardinal defense held Philip Rivers and Co. to 290 yards of offense and just 238 pass yards. Rivers completed 21-of-36 passes and threw one interception. On the ground, Arizona allowed just 52 yards in a 18-17 victory.
It’s hardly a cake walk for the Giants in the team’s home opener, but Cruz believes another tough opponent is exactly what New York needs.
“I am excited to see how we respond,” Cruz said, “just get back on the field and shake off this game one and get on the field and run some routes and begin to feel good about ourselves
“We want to get back out there and be focused and get our confidence back and be able to run some routes again and catch the ball and see football again”