COMMENTARY | New York Giants' wide receiver Victor Cruz has been off his game lately. Consequently, the team's offense has struggled to put the ball in the end zone. Unless Cruz can find a way to get open more often, the Giants are not going to score many points.
It's really that simple.
Cruz is a marked man. Defenders have jammed, double-covered and hammered him this season, all in an effort to slow down Big Blue's high-powered offense. And, for the most part, it has worked. The third-year pro, who had a breakout season in 2011, has eight drops this season and a total of 10 catches for 116 yards and no touchdowns over his last three games. Meanwhile, Eli Manning has gone three straight games without throwing a touchdown for the first time since his rookie season in 2004.
"I don't know how to explain it," Cruz told Giants.com after New York lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-13, on November 11. "I don't know what's going on or what's going wrong. It's just a matter of getting back to the drawing board and playing football."
I hate to put Cruz under the bus, but what's going on is that he's not getting open enough. And he's the key to the Giants' offense, in my opinion. So far this season, Cruz has burned the Cleveland Browns for three touchdowns, stunned the Washington Redskin with a game-winning 77-yard touchdown catch and hauled in a key 80-yard TD pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But his lack of production over the last few weeks is hurting the Giants, who have lost two straight games.
Despite his recent struggles, Cruz is not very far off his pace from last season with 60 catches for 743 yards and seven touchdowns. However, the pass-first Giants need him to be more consistent and dangerous, especially with Hakeem Nicks hampered by foot and leg injuries. Cruz can't solve all the team's problems, but he can give the Giants one less thing to worry about by getting open more often.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. He proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.