There are a lot of questions facing the 2015 Giants as they begin training camp in preparation for the team’s 12th campaign under head coach Tom Coughlin. What’s surprising is that some of those questions have nothing to do with star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul or his injured hand. With Pierre-Paul technically not under contract, some of the media’s focus is starting to shift onto the players who are working out in East Rutherford.
One of those is Victor Cruz, the wide receiver who suffered a brutal knee injury against Philadelphia last year. There’s still hope that the UMass alumnus can be ready to play alongside Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 1, but as general manager Jerry Reese says, the team doctors are easing Cruz back into action.
“I’m just happy to see Victor out there,” said Reese. “It’s a long way back, he had a big injury. I still don’t think he’s 100 percent back but I think he’s close. We’ll continue to take him slow. To see those two guys out there together, it’s exciting for us and exciting for our fans. We think they can be a good tandem out there together.”
There’s hope among Giants fans that Cruz and Beckham and team up with quarterback Eli Manning to form one of the scariest passing attacks in the NFL. With the way Beckham took the league by storm as a rookie in 2014 and the way Cruz has been able to separate from defenders in the past, you can forgive fans (and front office executives) for being optimistic about what might happen if both players are healthy at the same time.
“You just think about last year,” said Reese,. “If you have Odell (Beckham Jr.) for 16 games and you have Victor Cruz for the entire season, you would think you could probably squeeze out a few more wins if you have those explosive-type players playing for the full season… So I expect our offense to score points.”
Even if putting points on the board isn’t an issue for this 2015 Giants team, it won’t be ready to win a championship without a solid defense. That’s where new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo comes in. After leading the Giants to a Super Bowl title in 2007 and a division championship in 2008, “Spags” is back in blue to lead a unit that might be without its best player.
“I think we’ll be really good defensively,” said Reese. “I think we’re going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play and play at a high level at that position. I do think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year. [Spagnuolo] can motivate these guys and tell them what they have to do, but the players have to get out there and perform. So it’s up to the players.”
If those players stay healthy and productive, they have a solid chance of returning the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.