From Matthew Cohen SNYGiants contributor
I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth – I was thrilled with last night’s victory. The defense played very well. Any time you can hold Aaron Rogers to 10 points, it’s an accomplishment.
I was also thrilled with the running game. Brown and Bradshaw ripped off some terrific gains.
But let’s be honest, the Giants ability to win in rest of the regular season and (hopefully) the playoffs will be driven by their ability to pass the ball. And Eli loves to target Nicks and Cruz. To be truthful, I thought that Nicks and Cruz would be the top wideout tandem in the NFL this year. The table from last night below tells a different story.
Eli only completed 42% of his passes to Nicks and Cruz. For a measly 6 yards per attempt (62.5% and 7.25 yards per attempt is average for starting NFL QBs). This was against a severely depleted Green Bay defense that was missing their best pass rusher (Matthews) as well as Charles Woodson. I’ve already written that Cruz has been subpar this year (7.1 yards per target vs 11.7 last year, only 57% of targets caught, so he’s not even an effective possession receiver). Nicks has clearly not fully recovered from his injuries and Eli can’t rely on him to out muscle defenders in 1 on 1 coverage any more.
Defenses can key on Cruz and Eli doesn’t feel comfortable enough with his other receivers to spread the ball around. Last night, 2/3 passes went to Cruz and Nicks. 90% of wide receiver passes went to the top 2 receivers with a measly 2 passes to Randle. At this point in the season, it seems unlikely that Nicks will get healthy enough to be the Nicks of old. Which means that Cruz’s production will continue to suffer as defenses target him.