New York Giants: Victor Cruz predicts breakout year for Sterling Shepard

sterling shepard, new york giants

With recent additions to the wide receiver position, some wondered where Sterling Shepard would fall in the New York Giants‘ plans for this season. However, it looks like Shepard is in for a large role after a training camp and preseason where both Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney have dealt with injury troubles.

Shepard is one of the offense’s main healthy weapons right now, and former Giant Victor Cruz is predicting a big year for the wide receiver.

“I think watch out for Sterling Shepard. I think he’s going to be a guy… Sterling Shepard is going to be a guy that’s going to do some really big things this year that might slip under the radar,” Cruz said to TMZ Sports on Saturday.

Things have changed a lot for Shepard over the past year. He’s had a hard time playing a full season, participating in 10 games in 2019 and 12 games in 2020. He hasn’t had a 1,000 yard receiving season yet, and the closest he came was back in 2018 when he racked up 872 yards.

Because of problems with concussions that led to his long absences in 2019, many believed the Giants should trade the player while his value is still high.

This season appears to be the other way around. Shepard is the healthy one, and it’s other high profile Giants receivers that are at risk of missing time with injury. Given these circumstances, this is just about as good of a time as any for Shepard to have a breakout season and assert himself as the top weapon in the receiving game for Daniel Jones.

Some will undoubtedly be cautious in making predictions about Shepard thanks to his history of missing games, but Victor Cruz is certainly confident in Shepard making something happen this season and definitely knows a thing or two about Giants wide receivers.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones gets Eli Manning comparison from Victor Cruz

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Going into year three, Daniel Jones will be one of the key pieces for the New York Giants for better or worse. Jones is the team’s starting quarterback despite the polarizing opinions on him from the fans, but everything indicates the organization itself is positive on his chances going forward. That also includes some past players, including wide receiver Victor Cruz.

While showing up on Good Morning Football, Cruz spoke on Jones and claimed that Jones’ teammates including the receivers all love him. He said that Jones knows what it means to be a quarterback for the New York Giants. And he also went as far as to compare Jones to his predecessor, Eli Manning.

“I think having similar character traits to Eli in terms of his temperament, in terms of the way he treats players and his teammates, I think that’s going a long way for him off of the field,” Cruz stated.

Cruz also mentioned that, while Jones hasn’t put it all together on the field yet, he’ll have new weapons this season. According to him, the Giants can make “a really strong push and be relevant” during the 2021 season and that spending money in free agency will help with that.

This season certainly will be the most high pressure one yet for Jones and many have said that year three is when the verdict will be decided on if Jones is the rebuild quarterback the Giants need or not. But at the very least, Jones will seemingly have the backing of all of his teammates as well as further help in the offense from new additions in 2021.

New York Giants: Victor Cruz expects Daniel Jones to become a ‘leader’

New York Giants, Victor Cruz

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones turned some heads in his rookie season. Across 13 games, 12 of which were starts, he threw for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 61.9 percent of his passes and posting an 87.7 quarterback rating. Jones also ran for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

The Giants are going into their first full season with Jones under center, as Eli Manning announced his retirement in January.

In an interview with NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano, former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said that he thinks Jones can become a “leader” in his sophomore season (quotes via Giants.com’s Matt Citak).

“Just continuing to build on the leadership qualities he already has,” Cruz said when asked what comes next in Jones’ development. “I think obviously, coming in on another year without Eli Manning being there, he can actually feel like the leader, be himself and start to bring these guys under his leadership. I think that’s the biggest thing he has to fulfill this year.”

“Yes, the stuff on the field will kind of take care of itself. He’ll make the plays, he’ll make the decisions that he needs to make, I think, in order to be successful… Daniel Jones, this will be the year where he starts to build his own leadership with his guys.”

As Citak mentions, Manning said back in May that he thinks his departure will help Jones this season.

“I think it will be easier this year for him to kind of step up as that leader,” Manning said. “Last year was probably awkward for him, me being there, me being in meeting rooms and just kind of the whole dynamic. Me being gone and, hey, he is the quarterback, he is the guy, for him to have that control and the authority over receivers and offensive line.”

The New York Giants selected Jones with the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Duke University.

New York Giants: Victor Cruz Not Yet Over Boat Trip Photo

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz

The New York Giants haven’t been in the playoffs for the past few seasons, and in the last season that they did make it into the postseason, one memorable moment stood out more than anything else – the infamous trip to Miami which resulted in a famous boat picture and was followed up by a loss to the Packers in the divisional round.

The loss, and the way that it happened, ended the most recent era of the Giants being competitive and introduced the era of losing, head coaches changing quickly, and the team having less and less star players. One well known Giant that went out on that loss was Victor Cruz, who departed from the Giants afterwards, and the trip that happened in the buildup to the game has still stuck with him even after retirement.

“This photo will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Cruz told E! News recently. “It was more so the feeling of, ‘Man, when am I going to get to do this again? When am I going to get to be an athlete, win a football game, go on a private jet, go to Miami the same night?’ It was one of those things where I was just like, ‘I think I’m just going to feed our ego tonight.'”

The picture quickly became a talking point and was perhaps talked about even longer than the Giants poor on the field performance against the Packers. It was also, possibly, the point when the relationship between the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. started to go downhill. Despite multiple players being in the picture, it was Beckham that received flak about it the longest, mainly in the debate about whether or not the Giants should have kept him.

It wasn’t uncommon, by then, for detractors to add in snide remarks about the Miami trip when arguing against the Giants keeping the wide receiver. In the end, the Giants ended up trading him to the Browns.

“If this was 1999, no one would have known about the trip, we would have went, had a great time, come back. And then had we won the game, that’s the part that kind of bothers me, too. If we won the game, they’d be like, ‘Go to Miami every week, apparently that’s the good luck charm.’ The fact that we lost, left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” Cruz elaborated further on the topic of the infamous picture.

Like it or not, the picture is now a part of Giants fan lore – and until the team makes it back to the playoffs and advances rather than flopping, it’s going to remain there as a symbol of the last time when the Giants were competitive and in the running for a playoff run… Even if they did enter the postseason in 2016 as underdogs.

New York Giants: Former Giant Victor Cruz Pops in the Morning

New York Giants, Victor Cruz

Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was a remarkably talented player, brimming with skills and dynamism every time he was on the field!  Cruz went on to have an extremely exceptional career and since retiring he has not slowed down one bit.

Cruz has embarked on many very successful endeavors excelling at each and everything he has done.  His latest venture is joining Lilliana Vazquez and Scott Tweedie as co-host of E!’s ‘Pop of the Morning’ News Show airing weekdays at 11 a.m.!  The show centers around the latest pop culture news and trends where the hosts share their opinions and take on certain topics along with celebrity guests and icons.

Cruz is a natural at it and is a genuine people person.  His effervescence, along with his witty humor, brings such joy and fun to the show.  Cruz is always enthusiastic to try something new and when he does he brings nothing but passion and heart.  He brings with him an earnest, heartfelt and righteous insight into pop culture and everyday life.  Cruz is kind, respectful and courteous to all and his sincerity shines through-with Cruz there is no facade- what you see is what you get and that is the most down-to-earth guy you will find!

The hosts have good rapport and chemistry with each other which makes it all the more enjoyable.  Although the show has had just a few episodes, it certainly looks promising to do extremely well and garner a loyal fan base!  This show is funny, entertaining, real, honest, interesting and full of variety, making the hour fly by.  It is innovative and ingenious and an absolutely fantastic way to start your morning.  It is a pop of brightness to start the morning!

Cruz is a shining star in everything he tackles and this will be no different!  He has a GIANT personality and that along with his determination is a winning combination! Be sure to catch Victor Cruz, along with Lilliana Vazquez and Scott Tweedie on ‘Pop of the Morning’, weekdays at 11 a.m. on E! Network!

New York Giants: Taking A Look At Sean Ryan- Matt Rhule’s Likely Offensive Coordinator

The New York Giants are searching for their third head coach in four years. Coming off of a 4-12 season, New York felt it was time to make another change and fired head coach Pat Shurmur at season’s end. So far, the Giants have met with five candidates for their head coach position with two more scheduled interviews to go.

With the Dallas Cowboys’ recent hiring of Mike McCarthy, there is one clear top candidate for the Giants. Matt Rhule, the head coach of Baylor, is the best candidate available for the New York Giants. Rhule has an impressive college track record and was almost hired as an NFL head coach last offseason.

Ultimately, uncertainty surrounding Rhule’s coaching staff kept him from taking that job. Art Stapleton reports that Rhule planned on bringing former Giants assistant coach Sean Ryan in as his offensive coordinator. Assuming this is his plan again in 2020, Sean Ryan would be a great hire.

Sean Ryan’s Career History

Sean Ryan, the New York native and University of Albany alum, has had an excellent career in the NFL. Ryan has accomplished much throughout his coaching career that began in 1998. The two-time Super Bowl champion has overseen career-years out of numerous star quarterbacks and wide receivers in the NFL.

Sean Ryan’s first NFL coaching job was with- guess who- the New York Giants. In 2007, Ryan was hired as the offensive quality control coach and served under that role until being promoted to wide receivers coach in 2010. Ryan then moved up to quarterbacks coach in 2012, then went back to work as the Giants’ wide receiver coach in 2014 and served there through 2015 before moving on to a career in Houston.

In the 2019 offseason, Matt Rhule was in consideration for the head coaching job of the New York Jets. Sean Ryan was in line to be Rhule’s offensive coordinator with the Jets. Ultimately, the Jets and Rhule were not a good fit due to a disagreement in Rhule’s coaching staff. Matt Rhule described the situation as an “arranged marriage” because the Jets would not allow Rhule to select his own assistant coaches. Rhule wants full control over who is on his coaching staff in the NFL, and the Giants will be willing to give that to him.

Sean Ryan was then hired by the Detroit Lions to serve as their quarterbacks coach in 2019. Assuming Sean Ryan is still Matt Rhule’s choice of offensive coordinator, he will likely be one-and-done in Detroit as Matt Rhule is expected to make the jump to the NFL this offseason (hopefully with the New York Giants, but maybe with the Carolina Panthers).

Getting The Best Out Of His Players

The Giants and Their 2011 Three-Headed Monster

Possibly the most impressive tenure of Sean Ryan’s coaching career was with the New York Giants. While a member of Big Blue, Sean Ryan won two Super Bowls (XLII and XLVI) and had a part in coaching some of the best offenses in franchise history. From 2008 to 2012, the Giants’ offense was ranked inside the top ten every year.

Sean Ryan is credited with the development of the Giants’ best receiving corps in recent memory. The group featured Salsa-King Victor Cruz, along with Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, all players that should stick out to Giants fans. Reminder, Victor Cruz was an undrafted free agent who made a tremendous impact as soon as he stepped foot on the field. Plus, it is hard not to notice the failing success-level that Manningham and Nicks fell to after parting ways with Ryan and the Giants.

In 2011, the unit helped the Giants set a franchise record with 4,734 net passing yards. Victor Cruz was the central standout, totaling 1,536 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns on 18.7 yards per reception. This was also Cruz’s de facto rookie season since he missed all of 2010 with a knee injury.

Giants fans will never forget Mario Manningham’s reception down the left sideline in Super Bowl XLVI. Without that catch, the Giants do not have four world championships. But they also would not have gotten there if not for Hakeem Nicks’s 444 post-season receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.

The Rise of Odell Beckham Jr.

Sean Ryan was promoted to be the quarterbacks coach of the New York Giants in 2012. Eli Manning made the Pro Bowl that year with 26 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions, and 3,948 passing yards. Unfortunately, Manning’s worst season of his career came in 2013 when he led the NFL with 27. Mixed results in these two years.

Ryan was moved back to wide receivers coach in 2014. This was a crucial move as the Giants had spent the 12th overall pick on a wide receiver that year: Odell Beckham Jr. Ryan gets some credit for the rapid development of Odell during his rookie season. Beckham missed the first four games of the season, but then exploded onto the scene and racked up an incredible 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games.

Odell Beckham Jr. was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2015 for another outstanding season, increasing his receiving yards total to 1,450. Beckham shattered numerous records during his first two seasons with the New York Giants and is another shining example of Sean Ryan’s ability to develop and get the most out of young, talented playmakers on offense.

Working With DeAndre Hopkins:

Sean Ryan left the New York Giants in 2016. Ryan left behind the versatile Odell Beckham and began working with the reliable DeAndre Hopkins. Sean Ryan became the Houston Texans’ wide receivers coach in 2016 and, admittedly, this was not one of Hopkins’s better seasons in the NFL.

However, Hopkins’s somewhat disappointing 2016 campaign is not the fault of himself or Sean Ryan. The Texans’ offense featured Brock Osweiler at quarterback who managed to throw only 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. Regardless, Ryan did not hold that coaching position very long. He was promoted the following season.

Developing One Of The League’s Best Young Quarterbacks: Deshaun Watson

In 2017, Sean Ryan was promoted to quarterbacks coach of the Houston Texans. This was a critical promotion since the Texans had spent a first-round pick on quarterback Deshaun Watson that year. Ryan and Watson developed a strong relationship that led to a spectacular on-field product. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said to the Houston Chronicle that Ryan did a “good job” with Watson in terms of “prepping him with the game plan.”

Deshaun Watson was incredible during his two seasons under Sean Ryan. In his cut-short rookie season, Watson threw for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns, and an 83.6 QBR in 6 starts before going down with a gruesome knee injury. Watson got back to full-health for 2018 and built on his 2017 season. In 2018, Deshaun threw for a career-high 4,165, 26 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions en route to an 11-5 record. The rapid development of Deshaun Watson in his first two seasons is something for Giants fans to take note of. Sean Ryan could be the best coordinator available for Daniel Jones.

Matthew Stafford’s Career Resurgence

Matthew Stafford was on track for a career-year under Sean Ryan before his season-ending back injury. 2019 saw Matt Stafford achieve career-bests in QBR at 73.1, 6.5 TD% per pass attempt, 8.6 yards per pass, 13.4yards gained per completion, and a 106 QB Rating (PFR). Stafford was also passing for an average of 312.4 yards per game (second-best mark of his career) en route to 19 touchdown passes and 2499 passing yards in 8 games.

Sean Ryan’s Role As An Offensive Coordinator

The job title of offensive coordinator would be a massive promotion for Sean Ryan. Ryan has been a positions coach throughout his entire career and has never been tasked with coaching the whole offense. Typically, offensive coordinators are designated play-callers in NFL offenses. This, too, would be uncharted territory for Sean Ryan.

Though Sean Ryan has no prior experience as an offensive play-caller, one of his former head coaches is confident that Ryan will find success:

“I think Sean could probably call the plays right now, but I think it’s important for me to take a little bit more ownership of this offense,” O’Brien said. “I think Sean is destined to be a coordinator in this league.

“He’s a very bright guy, is quick on his feet and works his butt off. Players respect him. So, yeah, I can see him doing that (calling plays) down the road.” – Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien via Chron.com in 2017

Regardless of his unknown play-calling abilities, Sean Ryan’s ability to develop talent at crucial offensive positions should be more than enough to excite Giants fans. His work with quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford are telling of what Ryan is capable of, not to mention the former Giants assistant coach oversaw the development of some of the best receivers in franchise history. A Sean Ryan reunion could be precisely what the Giants’ offense needs to help their young talent take the next step.

New York Giants: Could Former Legendary Giants Receiver Make A Comeback?

New York Giants, Victor Cruz

The New York Giants have been plagued with an injury early on in training camp. The Giants have seen two starting receivers go down with an injury and a couple of key pieces on defense, too.

The latest news in the Giants’ recent series of unfortunate events comes once again from the receiver corps. Newly signed veteran receiver Golden Tate has been suspended four games. Tate is appealing the suspension but there is no guarantee he will win.

The Giants signed a couple of new receivers to add some depth, but should more be done? One surprising name could become an option for New York. Former Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz has shown some interest in a reunion.

Where Does This Rumor Come From?

News broke of Golden Tate’s suspension Saturday morning resulting in a panic amongst Giants Nation. It looks like the Giants could be without all three of their starting receivers (Shepard, Tate, and Coleman) come week one.

The Giants will need to sign some players to keep their receiving corps decent. As Giants fans and reporters discussed the Golden Tate news, they also discussed potential replacements. Along the way, former Giants legendary wide receiver Victor Cruz’s name came up in discussions.

Former Giants and current Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara was the first to mention Victor Cruz as an option for the Giants. Amukamara brought Victor into the discussion with this exciting tweet:

Prominent Giants beat reporter Art Stapleton then kept it going, responding to Amukamara with “Co-sign.” Later on in the day, a fan asked Stapleton on Twitter if Cruz to the Giants was a possibility. Art then asked Victor Cruz what he thought about it. Cruz responded with this:

Victor Cruz claims to be ready to make a comeback. Should the Giants give the slot a receiver a shot?

What Does Cruz Have Left In The Tank?

Victor Cruz is now 32 years old and has not played professional football since the 2017 pre-season during his brief stint in Chicago. But according to Victor himself, he is ready to make an NFL comeback.

Giants fans will always remember Victor Cruz for his legendary moments during the Giants’ Super Bowl run in the 2011 to 2012 NFL season. The Salsa-dancing playmaker was nothing short of incredible that year.

It was after that season that things started to tumble downward for Victor. He suffered multiple injuries, including a devastating torn patellar tendon in 2014. Cruz was never really able to get back to 100%, except for a brief part of the Giants’ 2016 season.

That year, Cruz did manage to play in 15 games, but he did not have a prominent role in New York’s offense. Victor recorded only 39 receptions, 589 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown.

It would be really cool to see Victor Cruz suit up in Giants blue one more time, but it is a pipe dream, to say the least. His extensive injury history and extended time away from the game will leave the Giants with too many question marks.

However, at only 32 years old, Victor Cruz is still young enough to play ball. Golden Tate is 30 and the Giants just signed him to a 4-year deal this offseason. If Victor Cruz manages to get a workout with Big Blue and looks impressive, his age will not stop him and New York from striking a deal.

New York Giants: Eli Manning’s Former Teammates Think It Is Time To Move On

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz

Throughout the 2019 offseason, the state of the New York Giants‘ quarterback room will be a highly debated and widely discussed topic around the NFL. Giants fans are split. Their beloved franchise hero, Eli Manning, is now 38 years old. He has received increased criticism over the past two years for his regressing performance. Taking his age and performance into account, fans and analysts have been debating whether or not the Giants should move on from Manning.

Since this is such a highly discussed topic, analysts have even asked Eli’s former teammates what they think. Eli is known for being a great teammate. He has strong relationships with his current and former teammates. Despite this, not everyone has defended him recently. Some former teammates have even admitted that they believe it is time for the Giants to acquire a new quarterback.

Victor Cruz:

Former New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz has been asked about Eli on multiple occasions. In one impromptu interview with TMZ, Cruz was asked if he would bench Eli. His response: “Maybe, yes at the moment.Just to see what I got in my future. Just to see what’s going on.”

This interview took place midseason in November. Eli never did get benched, so the Giants do not know what they have as their future. Backup rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta saw limited playing time in a blowout against Washington, but that’s about it. The future of the Giants’ quarterback position is still a huge question mark.

Fans believe the Giants will need to find their future franchise signal-caller this offseason, and a couple of Giants legend agree.

Plaxico Burress:

The wide receiver who caught Eli’s game winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII has made his opinion very clear. Plaxico Burress believes the Giants should draft a quarterback this offseason. More specifically, Burress would like to see the Giants draft Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. in 2019. On January 18, Burress stated hon FS1’s Undisputed: “My mindset is if Dwayne Haskins is available at the 6th pick, we gotta take him.”

This is the mindset of a lot of Giants fans. All over social media Giants fans are calling for the Giants to take Haskins in the 2019 NFL Draft. Some fans and analysts even think the Giants should trade up to ensure they get Haskins.

Michael Strahan:

Former Giants Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan has a different, but similar idea for the Giants in 2019. He too believes the Giants should draft a quarterback in 2019. However, he thinks the Giant should draft a different quarterback: Kyler Murray. Kyler Murray out of Ohio State is a controversial prospect who declared for the draft earlier this week. It is still not confirmed that he will choose the NFL over the MLB, but if he does, he could be a top ten pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Michael Strahan is a fan of Murray’s abilities. During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Strahan discussed how he would handle the Giants’ current quarterback situation. He would handle it in a similar fashion to how the Giants handled it in 2004, when Eli was a rookie. When asked about his plan, Strahan said: “I’d draft (Kyler) Murray and then I’d let him learn from Eli for the year or eight, nine, 10 games.”

This is a plan plenty of Giants fans could get behind, whether it be Haskins or Murray. Regardless of who the Giants select in the 2019 NFL Draft, they must address the quarterback decision. The fans know it, the players know it, and the front office needs to know it too.