Big Blue lost more than a game Sunday when star wideout Victor Cruz was lost for the season with a torn patella tendon.
That being said, quarterback Eli Manning noted trying to overcome the loss will be a collective endeavor — and that nobody will feel sorry for the Giants.
“This week we’ve got to grow up,” said Manning. “We don’t know exactly how [filling the void] will be done just yet, [but] we’ll figure that out. We’ll find a way to keep playing and make plays to help us play better than we played.”
The injury to Cruz will be highly difficult to overcome, considering Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense seemed tailor-made for a player who earned his money off yards after the catch. Cruz was such a dynamic wideout in that he routinely ranked in the top-10 in yards after catch. As a matter of fact, since 2011, Cruz never finished lower than 15th in the league in most of the important wideout categories, including yards, yards per catch and targets.
The electric wideout was capable of turning a short pass into a big play with one simple move.
But the fact remains there will be a huge void to be filled. This offense is designed to set up the playmakers, who normally catch the ball in stride and break a tackle or two. But without Cruz (23 catches for 337 yards), it’ll be a committee.
Rueben Randle (28 catches, 247 yards and two scores) seems to be next in line to gobble up Cruz’s targets, but the 6-foot-2 wideout is more of a complementary player who usually lines up outside the hashes, while Cruz did his magic underneath from the slot. Rookie Odell Beckham Jr. (six catches, 72 yards and a score) has the quicks and route-running to at least mimic Cruz, but he has just two games under his belt.
“We don’t have an option, and can’t feel sorry for ourselves, [so] we have to find a way to overcome” said Manning when asked if he feels Big Blue can now overcome their two-game hole in the NFC East.
The quarterback added rookies like running back Andre Williams and Beckham will need to mature and produce quickly.
“Obviously, guys have to fill roles, and someone’s going to have to fill that role in the slot, [and] in being a leader. We’re missing a captain with Victor,” said Manning. “We have some guys who are going to have to fill and make plays. … Hopefully they [younger and inexperienced players] got the nerves out and got the jitters out of the way.”
The real disappointment for Cruz is the irony of it all. It was in Philadelphia, three years ago, that Cruz became a national name, first showed off the salsa moves that his grandmother had taught him and became a fan favorite. But now the same turf has claimed his knee and put doubt into whether the Giants’ offense can ever get back on track this season.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.