Victor Cruz lone bright spot in Giants’ lousy offensive start

Victor Cruz
Victor Cruz is the only Giants player on offense to impress this season.
Credit: Getty Images

The Giants are winless, and with a tough schedule ahead it doesn’t look very promising. But there’s been at least one shining light in an otherwise dim season — wideout Victor Cruz.

So far this season, Cruz has lit up opponents to the tune of 26 receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns. He’s been so dominant in the Giants’ offense that he has 10 catches, 195 yards and three touchdowns more than any of his teammates. And since he’s coming off a 10-catch, 164-yard and one-touchdown afternoon in an otherwise dismal blowout in Kansas City, he just may be the savior for Big Blue going forward.

“He’s playing as well as we’ve seen him play,” said head coach Tom Coughlin said. “Thank God for it.”

The man responsible for getting him the ball, quarterback Eli Manning, is also singing praises — smart considering he’ll likely be looking for Cruz often against an Eagles secondary that has shown it can be gashed.

“I think Victor is playing great [and] he’s played well all season,” said Manning. “He’s making a lot of plays and winning his one-on-one battles. I think he’s done a great job of coming in and continuing to play at a high level. That’s great and hopefully everybody else can catch up to that level.”

Manning will have a shot at getting on the wideout’s level, as he’s had great success against the Eagles — particularly at home — so this could finally be the matchup the struggling offense needs to break its slide. Manning has tossed 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions in his last four home games against the Eagles.

Even fellow starting wideout Hakeem Nicks, who has struggled mightily this season, may get right this week knowing that the Giants’ passing game has an advantage over the Eagles’ back seven.

“These first four games you’ve seen spurts [in the passing game]. We’ve shown that we can pass the ball. We’re still believing in ourselves, believing in each other. We believe we’re still going to come out with a victory,” said Nicks. “But like I said, it’s not about talking about it, it’s about doing. We go out there, we play hard and it will be in our favor.”

Cruz will have his matchup in his favor against the Eagles. Currently, he’s tied for 10th in the NFL in catches, fourth in receiving yards and tied for third in touchdown catches. His full-season projections are a staggering 104 catches, 1,700-plus yards and 16 touchdowns.

And while he knows he’ll have a target on his back on Sunday, Cruz accepted that responsibility and said he won’t try to play any harder than usual.

“I guess I’m just getting open, catching balls that are thrown to me and making something happen,” Cruz said. “That’s all I can do, to do what’s expected of me and get myself open and be an outlet for Eli to hit … but it’s not just about me. It’s about this team getting on the same page again, us clicking on all accords and getting this offense back on track.”

The Giants’ offense is ranked 23rd in yards (325.5 a game) and 30th in scoring (a paltry 15.3 points a game). Philadelphia has scored an average of 24.8 points per game, a respectable 12th overall in the rankings. But the defense has allowed 34.5 points per game, making their points differential minus-9.8 points per game. That’s 28th in the league, meaning as much as they get, they give even more.

“I think if we give the quarterback time, I think very confidently he’ll throw the ball well and give our guys a chance. Things have worked [and] those are the things you try to focus on,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “The other guys have to step up and make plays. [Cruz] is playing great and we’re very proud of the way he’s shown up, [but] we have other guys who have talent, too, and we believe that they can do it, too. … Eli will find them. We’re trying to give all of them [receivers] a chance. I think we’re headed in the right direction. Unfortunately it’s been painfully slow.”

Big Blue notes …

» The Giants are facing the Eagles one week after Philadelphia lost to the Broncos, 52-20. This week, Denver (4-0) is at Dallas (2-2), which is in first place in the NFC East. If the Giants win and the Cowboys lose, the Giants will be just a game out of first place.

» Manning admitted that he and big brother Peyton have compared notes on each other’s upcoming opponents.

“I talked to him [Wednesday],” Manning said. “I talked to him about Philly. I gave him my thoughts on Dallas. That’s who they’re playing this week. I watched [Denver’s] game [against the Eagles]. You ask some questions and just see some general thoughts and I’ll do the same helping him with Dallas. … Not so much as advice, [but] just scheme or some ideas or just some general thoughts on their team.”

» One day after safety Antrel Rolle admitted he’s “desperate” for a win, Cruz basically admitted the same thing.

“This game’s always intense,” Cruz said. “Us against Philly is always intense, no matter what the records are, no matter how each team is playing. It’s an important game for us no matter what. This game is important in the division. We have to get this victory by any means necessary.”

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

Movies

Review: Desert-walking movie 'Tracks' would be better as…

Mia Wasikowska walks 1700 miles across Australia's deserts in "Tracks," in a story that defies triumph-of-the-spirit cliches but gets some of them anyway.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…