Want to know why the New York Giants selected Odell Beckham Jr. 12th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft? Want to know if the Giants miss the rookie wide receiver who has not played at all and has barely practiced due to a lingering hamstring issue? All you had to do was watch the Giants receivers Monday night vs. the Detroit Lions.
There were mis-communications between quarterback Eli Manning and some of his receivers. There were drops. There was an inability to get open. There was a failure at times to make plays once a pass was caught. The Giants' wide receivers weren't good Monday night, and they provided ample evidence as to why GM Jerry Reese used his first-round pick on the guy he felt was the best receiver available.
Here are the raw numbers:
- Victor Cruz: Six targets, two receptions, 24 yards, four yards after catch, two drops, a pitiful passer rating when thrown to of 6.9.
- Jerrel Jernigan: Seven targets, four receptions, 25 yards, nine yards after catch, one drop.
- Rueben Randle: Three targets, two receptions, one (Yes, ONE) yard.
- Corey Washington: One target, zero receptions.
Cruz said Tuesday that he and Randle need the ball to come in their direction more offense for the offense to be successful.
"I think in order for us to be successful, there needs to be an increased number of targets in my direction and other play-makers' directions, just like Rueben Randle as well, in my opinion," Cruz, a first-time offensive captain, said. "That all comes with the continuity. That comes with getting the running game going. That comes with building what we want to build as the game continues. It is just a matter of once we find that rhythm early on, we can get into passing the ball and opening up the plays a little bit."
Cruz has a point. He is the Giants' best offensive weapon and he was targeted only once in Monday's first 28 minutes. Cruz, however, also needs to look in the mirror.
On Eli Manning's second interception, a ball that had nothing on it because Manning was running to his left, Cruz was open. Rather than come back to the ball and help his quarterback, Cruz stayed stationary and allowed Detroit's Glover Quin to step in front and make the interception. Cruz also dropped two passes that would have gone for significant gains.
Cruz is the most proven, and most explosive, receiver the Giants have. He needs to not only be targeted more, but he needs to play better than he did on Monday.
As for Randle, the Giants need him to be a threat. They need him to make plays when they get the ball into his hands. That didn't happen Monday.
"I think it was just the progressions. I think it was just the way the game unfolded. I don't think it was anything deliberate or [Eli] wasn't looking his way," Cruz said. "I do believe we have to make a concerted effort to get Rueben Randle the ball as well as myself and build some continuity."
Jernigan did catch four passes, but dropped a ball that would have been a first down and appeared to not be where Manning expected him to be at least once. Jernigan, like Cruz, is a better slot receiver than outside receiver, and it isn't his fault that the Giants are forced to play him on the outside. The Giants need him to at least be efficient and be where Manning expects him to be when a ball is thrown in his direction. Not to mention, catch passes that hit him in the hands.
Perhaps Washington, at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, will eventually get more snaps on the outside in what is now Jernigan's spot. In his only target on Monday, Washington could not haul in a fade from Manning. That is a pass he caught several times in preseason working against reserve corners. He couldn't haul it in when challenged by Darius Slay, Detroit's best corner.
The often-expressed view here at Big Blue View has been 'pass protectors before pass receivers' when it comes to the draft. That view isn't changing. Were the Giants right to select Beckham instead of Zack Martin, the best offensive lineman available with the 12th pick? Only time will answer that question. Monday's performance, however, certainly showed why Reese selected Beckham.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1 pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.