Film breakdown: More on Victor Cruz’s bad night

Victor Cruz had a bad night in the Week 1 opener against the Cowboys.  He had 3 really bad drops, all routine catches that were reasonably easy to make, and was called for a pair of penalties: one was a false start, the other was a questionable, ticky-tack block in the back.

What you may not have noticed, however, was a complete “Ole” of a block on a perfect play call by Kevin Gilbride on a screen pass late in the game.  On 2nd and 10 with 3:51 left in the game and the Giants down 14, the Cowboys brought a heavy blitz (they brought 6, all circled) to the Giants’ left side of the line:

The Giants OL lets the blitzers in, and Eli Manning fires off a quick pass out to Domenik Hixon.  The Giants get exactly what they want here, as the play is set up perfectly.  Martellus Bennett (85) is heading out to block the CB, while Victor Cruz (circled) is in position to make a block on LB Sean Lee:

As Lee approaches (and this is difficult to show in still shots), Cruz side-steps Lee, and even turns his shoulder to allow Lee to get by him that much more easily.  Not pictured in the stills is safety Gerald Sensabaugh who is approaching from his safety spot.  Cruz may have been allowing Lee to go around him to his right side, thinking that Hixon would already be by him by the time Lee would attempt to make a tackle, so that he can get a jump on heading upfield to block Sensabaugh.  However, because the pass by Manning was high, that slowed up the play and Hixon may not have been as far upfield as Cruz anticipated.

Lee is left in great position to make the tackle while Cruz blocks… nobody.  In my opinion, even if the pass by Manning was perfect, Lee still would have been able to easily make the play.

This is a terrible job by Cruz.  Even if he had good intentions of getting up to the next level to block the safety, he has to at the very least put a shoulder into Lee, and not allow him to get by without any attempt whatsoever to slow him down.  There’s no chance in hell that’s how the Giants teach the WR to block on this play.  I’m not in Victor Cruz’s head, so I want to be careful here, but it appears to me that Cruz simply wanted no part of contact with Lee.

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  5. Joe D says:

    Well, let’s be frank. That “block in the back” was a HORRENDOUS call and should’ve never been a flag. It’s not even arguable , he hit him with a fingernail. Ticky Tack was jason hatcher’s roughing the passer. I think Eli got away with some acting there

    1. youngwiz says:

      with the right angle (the one they used for the reply) it was obv not a block in the back. however from a different angle it probably did look like he pushed him

      1. Lucky5936 says:

        I agree. All the ref saw were two hands extended, and not that there was hardly any effort behind the motion.

        On a side note, when is Bennett going to receive crap for his standing straigt up and catching a block. He had absolutely no desire to get low and drive his defender off the ball on numerous plays.

  6. Todd B says:

    Not good but I don’t think Cruz is known as a good blocking WR (I could be wrong on that). I’m not trying to dismiss this but that is not what he is on the field to do. Alternately, it may have been better to have Bennett line up in the slot and a 2nd TE lined up at TE.

  7. ct17 says:

    I’d like to see Cruz benched for a quarter for that.

    Sean Lee made plays all game. Another proof that timed speed in shorts is a ridiculous way to evaluate middle linebackers.

    1. Bob says:

      Yes, but Lee’s 40 time isn’t really a reflection of his actual speed given he was just coming back from a torn ACL when he ran it.

  8. Dan in Philly says:

    Looks like if Cruz had chipped Lee, #77 would have been able to block Lee completely out of the play, while as it was he was just a bit late. maybe it was really #77’s job to pick up Lee, and he’s the one late who blew the assignment?

  9. dannymac056 says:

    So true, rocket screen and they have 2 over 3 out there. All Cruz needed was a chip. As I watched that play, I thought it was gonna go. Terrible night for Cruz.

    Gotta give credit to Rob Ryan though, he used his new toys in the secondary incredibly effectively. Nicks might not be 100%, but Dallas’ game plan was excellent, making use of Carr to eliminate threats based on formational tendencies I thought, playing the receiver to the field sometimes, to the strength, in the slot at others.

    Interested to see how Giants’ D looks with a couple guys back- I don’t think we are talking about the type of change we saw towards the end of last year getting Osi and Tuck back, but Canty is a big part of what they do, so we’ll see.

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