With WR Steve Smith still unsigned and unlikely to start for the Giants week 1 of the NFL season, Eli Manning has been thinking about Domenik Hixon and Travis Beckum’s role in the offense.
From a report by ESPN NFC East Blogger Dan Graziano, Manning goes on to say how important those 3rd down receptions are going to be with Steve Smith out for an undetermined period of time:
“We need to continue to get those big plays, but also get more consistent at being able to pick up those tough third-and-five, third-and-sixes. That’s where Steve was so helpful. So either we need one of them to take over that or get it from someone else — whether it’s (Domenik) Hixon, a guy who has kind of played that slot position some, or see if Victor Cruz or someone else can get in there.”
Hixon is not returning punts or kickoffs, nor should he be. Jernigan/Ross and Ware should be handling those duties, not the #3 receiver in charge of sustaining drives in the Giants offense. But Victor Cruz has been flashy in camp, faster than last year, and has caught some big balls deep downfield. He’s also dropped a lot of easy passes too… so I’m not sure they want him relegated to the slot and being that security blanket for Eli Manning.
Manning also discussed the departure of Kevin Boss and what that might mean for the offensive adjustments and players the Giants will now have to utilize:
“We might have to get into different formations. Obviously, this year, Travis Beckum is our best receiving tight end, but he’s not 270 pounds like Kevin Boss. So we’ll have to create some different formations and different ways to kind of run our offense. But that’s common, and you advance, and you put your players in the best positions to be successful.”
Hixon and Beckum are going to have important roles this year without question. We all know what Hixon can do in the slot barring injury, and we saw at times last year some great looks from Eli to Beckum for big gains and the defense had no way to stop it. I look forward to seeing the adjustments made be the Giants — just the fact that Eli is talking about developing things further is a sign that they won’t force a certain playbook on a mismatched personnel package like they did in the latter half of 2008. Yes, I brought it all the way back to Plax’s gun shot, I sure did.
But to give credit where it’s due, since then the Giants offense has become much more deceiving, creative, dynamic, and complex — and I’d have to think this year is going to be an even bigger one for Manning and his myriad receivers.