- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One of the biggest questions the Giants will have to solve this offseason is what went wrong with the offense, particularly with the passing game. The Giants consistently have been one of the top offenses in the NFL during the Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning era, but entering Sunday's season finale against Washington, they're averaging their fewest points in that duo's 10 years together.
Receiver Victor Cruz believes there was some "disconnect" between Manning and his receivers.
"I think that's one thing we lacked is that continuity from a receivers standpoint with our quarterback," Cruz said Friday. "I want to build that earlier this year. Whether we got to set some time apart and get the receivers down with Eli whenever he's ready and kind of schedule it right so we can build not only on the field but off the field. We want to get to know each other a little bit more. I feel like there was a little bit of disconnect there that we want to get back to with this football team."
Manning worked with his receivers in the offseason at Duke, but not as much as he would have liked during OTAs. Cruz, who will miss Sundays' game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Dec. 19, missed OTAs with his contract situation. Hakeem Nicks also did not participate.
While that lack of offseason work is not he main cause, the Giants offense underperformed this season. The Giants are 28th in points per game and 30th in yards per game, and Manning has 17 touchdowns and a career-worst 26 interceptions.
Cruz, in his 14 games, was the best offensive player for the Giants this season. He caught a team-best 73 balls for 998 yards and four touchdowns, although he wishes he had scored more touchdowns. Cruz also would have liked to register his third straight 1,000-yard season, but on the play he was injured, his 16-yard catch was overturned, leaving him two yards shy.
"I wish I could go back and get them. It's OK. Things happen like that," Cruz said. "When I was on the flight going to get my surgery a fan came up to me and said 'man don't worry about those two yards, you still got 1,000 in my book.' I was like that sealed the deal for me, I knew I didn't need them. Obviously as a competitor you want to go out there and get those two. I just couldn't get those this year unfortunately but it's cool."
With changes possibly coming for the Giants after missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, Cruz said he'd like to see the offensive staff stick around. He's also hoping that Nicks, a pending free agent, will stay too. If Nicks departs, though, Cruz is ready to step up.
"Absolutely. Something happens and Hakeem isn't here, I'm ready to handle that load," Cruz said. "I'm ready to be the guy that kind of steps up and makes those big plays, those big third down catches and touchdowns. I've been accustomed to doing it basically all my life so I just mentally I want to continue to be focused and build my body to take that and be ready for those type of circumstances I'm going to be placed in this next year if Hakeem isn't around."
3dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan