In a game with very few bright spots, it became alarmingly evident that the Giants’ problems on offense have carried into the regular season.
The issues with the offensive line have been discussed since the end of last season, and the lack of protection leaves quarterback Eli Manning with very little time to make smart decisions with the ball. But, even when the guys up front are blocking, the offense still seems to struggle. The run game is inconsistent, and the receivers have a hard time creating separation on their routes.
Particularly troubling is the lack of impact being made by Victor Cruz, a former favorite Manning target. In the loss to the Lions, Cruz was a complete non-factor. With only two catches for 24 yards, he was only targeted six times. He went the entire first half of the game with only one catch for 4 yards. It also doesn’t help that two of the six passes thrown his way were dropped.
Reuben Randle’s stats were not impressive, either. His two catches for a single yard made the two receivers combined contribution a measly total of 25 yards.
Cruz went out after the game and said more targets in his direction are needed in order for the team to see any kind of offensive success. While that logic would appear to be accurate, the question remains as to how to make that a possibility.
In order for the passing game to become effective, opposing defenses need to be threatened by more than just Victor Cruz. With the loss of Hakeem Nicks (who was also a non-factor last season, but that’s another story), Cruz has become the main target for other teams. If they can shut him down, they very often succeed in shutting down most of Big Blue’s offensive momentum.
In the days when Cruz and Nicks were viewed as New York’s dynamic duo (think Super Bowl Championship in 2011), Cruz was able to be much more of an impact player. In that 2011 season, each of the two receivers had over 1,000 yards.
With Nicks injured for much of last season, Cruz hit just under that 1,000 yard mark, and stands to fall short again this season.
The key to creating some sort of offensive threat could lie with Reuben Randle. Randle is, on paper, a good replacement for Nicks. However, his on-field performance has not yet matched these expectations. Miscommunication with Manning and some difficulties with his ability to learn routes have halted him from reaching his full potential. If Randle can step up into the role of star receiver, Cruz, and the passing game as a whole, stand to be more effective.
The other factor is the health of first round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. Once Beckham Jr. gets on the field and begins contributing, Manning will hopefully have yet another viable option downfield.
Alexis Celluro | Featured Columnist