So Victor Cruz has broken out. In a big, big way. And now the man he replaced, Mario Manningham, is coming back. So what happens?
Here’s the issue. Cruz and Manningham are both outside receivers. They work better on the outside, by the sideline. If you notice, every time Cruz has made an impact (that preseason Jets game, this past Eagles game) he’s been working outside. He’s not a slot receiver. He’s an outside receiver.
Let’s define a slot receiver: These are the quick guys, can get open, and find soft spots in zone. Think Wes Welker, or Steve Smith. Those guys are the prototypical slot receivers. They run precise routes. They’re not going to blow by you, but they find a way to get open. Cruz and Manningham are not these guys.
They are big, fast. They can blow by guys. They can go over the top. They make big plays.
So what do you do? You can’t put Cruz in the slot, because he’s miscast there. Same with Manningham. Brandon Stokley is going to be the slot receiver. I think Manningham is going to remain in his position. I think he’s better than Cruz, and quite frankly, Cruz only did it once in the regular season. Manningham has proven to be a legit number 2 receiver in the NFL.
So what do you do with Cruz? Well you can use Cruz as a sort of run and shoot type player. Use him in those wheel routes that the Giants used a bunch yesterday. Have both him and Manningham line up and go deep.
The Giants have an opportunity to be creative here. If Cruz is to continue his ways as a threat, and if Manningham comes back healthy, that’s just one more weapon to look out for. This is a good problem to have. How they deal with it could either really help the offense, or hurt it. We’ll find out.