It is by no means as bad as Hakeem Nicks nor is it enough to set the alarm bells ringing just yet, but New York Giants leading receiver Victor Cruz has gone quiet as of late.
After opening the season with back-to-back 118-yard receiving outings, Cruz was looking as good as ever and standing out like a sore thumb among the mediocrity in the Giants ranks. The first of those games against the Dallas Cowboys heralded three of Cruz’s four touchdowns to date.
His most effective outing this season was in Week 4 when he showcased his class against what is arguably the No. 1 defense in the NFL so far this season. A 164 yard and one touchdown outing on the road against Kansas City Chiefs was another monumental effort in vain as the Giants crumbled 7-31.
On a personal note and despite the Giants misfortune, an outing of such stature against Brandon Flowers and company is not to be scoffed at. It was, however, the last time we’ve seen Cruz in a significant role, he’s not matched that season-best yardage in his last three games combined nor have we seen any call for salsa in that period either. Cruz even struggled to make an impact against a very generous Minnesota Vikings defense on Monday Night Football in Week 7; although No. 80 led the team in receptions for the first time in three games, he finished with modest figures of 50 receiving yards and no score.
It’s fair to say Cruz has gone off the boil in recent weeks, by the same token it’s also safe to assume that he’s got a golden opportunity to turn it back around in a Week 8 outing on the road against Philadelphia Eagles. Rewind just over two years ago to this very fixture, Lincoln Financial Field was the setting as the birthplace of a superstar. An unknown entity by the name of Victor Cruz was thrust into the limelight in place of Mario Manningham and did he ever make the most of it: three receptions, 110 receiving yards, two touchdowns (the longest of which was 74 yards) averaging 36.7 yards per catch to lead the Giants to a 29-16 victory. Cruz and the Giants never looked back as he completed his sophomore season with a Super Bowl ring.
It is essentially now or never for Cruz; if he can’t rekindle that explosive form in Week 8 there may just be cause for concern. The Eagles secondary has been the oppositions best friend in 2013, ranking 31st against the pass allowing an average of over 300 yards-per-game. Chip Kelly‘s men have also allowed the second-highest amount of receiving touchdowns on the year (14) and as an unsurprising parallel are giving up the most fantasy football points to wide receivers this term.
The aforementioned statistics are worrying from every angle if you’re among the Eagles faithful. They were the only team in the NFC (L) East not to win last week and you have to believe they are there for the taking after yet another change under center. The quarterback carousel brings more disruption to the offense, which, by and large, is keeping them in the hunt this season. Philly’s struggles when the ball is in flight also gives Eli Manning the opportunity to resurrect his season; after leading the Giants to their first win without a turnover for the first time in Week 7, Manning can take this opposing secondary to town with the right protection up front.
With safety Patrick Chung questionable for the contest and Nnamdi Asomugha switching coasts, if Cruz is afforded even a chink of daylight downfield, he will be off to the races in Week 8. It’s a 100-plus-yard-game waiting to happen.