The Giants offense already failed one test Monday night when they were dismantled by the Lions’ defense. And this Sunday’s examination will prove to be just as tough with All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson and Co. coming to MetLife Stadium.
Wideout Victor Cruz, who was held to just two receptions against a Detroit secondary that is customarily near the bottom-third of the league, has already said he needed more targets following the 35-14 shellacking in Detroit, so imagine his likely trepidation as Big Blue prepares for a top-5 Cardinals secondary that can blanket most any wideout.
“I did think our [offensive] problems would’ve been over by now and that we would’ve been able to get in a rhythm,” Cruz said. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve yet to get into that rhythm, but the great part is that game was just Week 1 and we have another week of practice ahead of us to see if we get better. … We’ll see what happens.”
Arizona (1-0) can make things happen on the back-end of its defense thanks largely in part to the rangy Peterson, who is adept at covering wideouts all over the field. But he’s not alone. They also boast veteran Antonio Cromartie at the other corner and safety Tyrann Mathieu — should the dynamic second-year player finally get cleared to play and test his healed ACL. Mathieu was reported as a full participant in practice on Wednesday, so it looks like he’ll join his mates in harassing Manning’s wideouts.
The Cardinals’ secondary poses a big problem for a new-look Giants’ offense that is still trying to find its way, as quarterback Eli Manning has picked up right where he left last season – struggling. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense is an entirely different concept from what Manning is used to, so trying to learn a new system on the fly, while dodging a hungry Cardinals attack could be a recipe for disaster.
“My feeling is just going out there trying to get better every day and win a game. We are working hard and I think we have a great plan going into Sunday. We just need to execute,” Manning said. “Keep grinding, keep working [and] hopefully get everyone on the same page. That’s the message. And hopefully make enough plays and be careful with the football to help our team win.”
Manning will need to be careful around the opportunistic Cardinals secondary, but with his recent rash of interception-laden games, that may be a tall order. Manning led the NFL with 27 interceptions last season and kicked off this campaign by throwing two more in Detroit.
“We talk about ‘finish’ all the time. Whether that’s a season, a game or a drive. Finish,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “We talk about not wasting your opportunities all the time. We deal with these things constantly, so we’re hoping we have a good week of practice — a short week — but still let’s have a good week leading up to a very talented Arizona Cardinals football team.”
Coughlin added he thought about bringing up last season’s 0-6 start as a way to jumpstart his team, but thought otherwise as last week waned.
“There was a thought in my mind as a motivational thing to talk about last year as we got into this week, and I decided it was for the best not to go there. Everybody is aware of what was last year. Do I have to hit them right between the eyes with last year and what we certainly don’t want to see happen? I don’t think so,” said Coughlin. “We’re hoping for progress. Progress is going to be continuing to take the basic fundamentals of what we know as a game of football, call it whatever you want to call it — no turnovers, no blown assignments, whatever — and to get better at it.”
Big Blue notes …
– The Giants’ practice report included a list of those who didn’t practice, including wideout Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), offensive tackle James Brewer (back), defensive tackles Markus Kuhn (ankle) and Cullen Jenkins (hip), linebacker Devon Kennard (hammy) and punter Steve Weatherford …
Linebacker Jon Beason (foot) and offensive tackle Charles Brown (shoulder) were limited participants.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.