Sunday night’s 27-0 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles was a major loss for the Giants in more ways than one. Not only did they move to two games behind the division leaders in the standings, but top wide receiver Victor Cruz is now out for the season with a torn patellar in his right knee.
Cruz suffered the injury while trying to catch a 4th-and-goal pass from Eli Manning in the third quarter. When the diagnosis was known, the missed touchdown opportunity was the least of the team’s concerns. “I think for the player,” said Manning, “That is my only concern is the individual. I am not worried about our team or the season or how we will be able to manage. Injuries are tough. It is a tough part of football. Playing this game, [injuries] happen. You just hate it happened to Victor because he loves playing this game.” The road to recovery appears to be a long one for Cruz, but Manning knows that his receiver will do whatever it takes to be ready for the 2015 season.
“I know whatever it is and whatever [Cruz] has to do, he will work his tail off and rehab and hopefully have a speedy recovery and get back to playing football and doing what he does, making plays on the field, soon.” For now, the Giants will have to manage without one of their most talented offensive weapons. To get back to lighting up the scoreboard the way they did against Houston, Washington, and Atlanta, everyone on New York’s offense needs to step up. Effort like the one against the Eagles can’t happen again if the Giants are to contend for the playoffs.
“Everybody took a little bit of a step back last night from the offense,” said Manning, “It is not just the offensive line. They had some sacks, but some of those were on me for holding the ball. Some of those are on receivers [who] have to get open and do their jobs. Some were on the running backs picking up their protection, so it is a combination of the whole offense having to do a better job.” Unless the whole offense does a better job this week against Dallas, the Giants will find themselves in an even deeper hole when it comes to division contention. One player who has a chance to shine for New York is talented but inexperienced rookie Odell Beckham Jr. While the offensive line isn’t likely to change until Geoff Schwartz recovers from his toe injury, Beckham can give the Giants a big boost in his new starting role.
“Odell has done some good things,” said Manning, “He has played well these last weeks and we have to find ways to get him the ball some more.”
Of course, if the line doesn’t player better against the Cowboys, it really won’t matter how many times Beckham touches the ball.