Victor Cruz is rehabbing a torn patellar tendon, something that has sidelined him since week six of last season. Cruz and the Giants are hoping that he can not only play, but have a huge impact on the team this year. What is the best case scenario and what is the worst possibility?
Related: Training Camp Profiles: Victor Cruz
Well we’ll start this with our glasses half full. If Cruz can return to the Giants offense in full strength early in the season than the Giants offense has a chance to reach the next level. With a combination of a healthy Cruz and an exciting Odell Beckham Jr. the opposing defense will have a lot to worry about.
Without Cruz the Giants offense is loaded with talent. Beckham is without a doubt a superstar. Rueben Randle is reliable and Larry Donnell is a solid option at tight end, in the passing game. With Cruz in the slot the defense has a decision to make. You cannot roll your coverage towards both receivers and Manning will be looking to make a big play.
When Cruz and Beckham Jr. are at full strength, you may be able to slow them down but stopping them isn’t on the menu. Cruz and Beckham Jr. will feed off the attention drawn to the other. If you double Beckham Jr., Cruz will have a field day. If you double Cruz, Beckham Jr. will shine.
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With two superstar receivers that can burn man coverage the Giants will see a lot of zone coverage. There will probably be a lot of cover 2 and cover 3 to deter the deep pass. This feeds right into the west coast offense that the Giants employ. Manning’s targets will find the windows in the zone coverage and he will quickly strike, negating pass rush.
When you have one superstar the offense is hard to stop. When you have two superstars opponents just have to hope that the Giants beat themselves. The best case scenario clearly sees the offense taking off to even higher levels than their seventh ranked passing game of the 2014 season.
The worst thing that could happen though is Cruz coming back too soon, or putting too much stress on his knee too soon. The Giants need to be careful not to make the injury worse. Cruz has gone through some awfully tough rehab and that effort should not be wasted by being reckless.
If Cruz were to not be healthy enough to contribute sooner rather than later than it puts a lot of pressure on the Giants other playmakers. Randle has to have the breakout season the Giants are hoping for. Donnell has to take his game up a full octave. The players around Manning have to work in perfect harmony.
If Cruz isn’t ready to go, or can only play a limited role the Giants offense may struggle. Randle and Donnell being stars isn’t a given. Teams will put all their energy into stopping Beckham Jr. and it will certainly limit his wowing plays.
The most realistic scenario is probably somewhere in between the dream and the nightmare. Cruz probably will not be ready as soon as the Giants want him to be, but he probably will make a solid impact when he is ready.