The New York Giants‘ situation at wide receiver has become as dismal as its been since the infamous Plaxico Burress incident of 2008.
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were no-shows for the start of OTA’s. It is needless to say that the two wideouts encompass the Giants’ offense. Or, as Bill Belichick put it, Super Bowl XLVII was a “Cruz and Nicks game”.
Cruz’s situation is — knowingly — his contract. However, Nicks’ absence is due to an injury; while his contract is set to expire after the 2013 season, he is also still recovering from an ailment. Surely, the latter is what Giants head coach Tom Coughlin prefers.
If the Giants don’t get Nicks into camp soon, then they will be practicing without a receiver who has 255 receptions, 3,726 yards and 27 touchdowns since his rookie 2009 NFL season.
In comparison, Ramses Barden — who the Giants signed to help create depth in the absence of the missing duo — has 29 receptions for 394 yards, and still has yet to score an NFL touchdown.
With Nicks and Cruz missing, the Giants started OTA’s with Reuben Randle, Barden, and Louis Murphy as the teams top three receivers. Adding up the three aforementioned receiver’s totals, their collective 2,399 career receiving yards is still bested by Cruz’s 2,628 career receiving yards — a total that only accounts for his two full NFL seasons.
Admittedly, Randle, who is still brimming with potential, just completed his rookie season, so his numbers wouldn’t be comparable. But the point still stands: Nicks and Cruz’ level of vitality to the Giant’s offense is of the utmost importance.
Ever since Earth, Wind, and Fire went defunct after the 2008 NFL Season, the Giants have relied more heavily on Eli Manning’s arm. Since 2009, Manning has trumped all passing yardage totals from his years that were previous to 2008.
In layman’s terms, before 2009, Manning’s highest passing yardage total came in 2007 when he threw for 3,336 yards. Since 2009, when the Giants began passing more often, Manning’s highest yardage count for a season was during 2011, when he passed for 4,933.
A veteran quarterback like Manning will make receivers better, but there is no substituting the chemistry between a quarterback and his two favorite targets.