NEW YORK (WFAN) — Victor Cruz is eager to show off the Giants’ new offense.
But that doesn’t mean it was easy watching former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride exit East Rutherford.
The wide receiver admitted to WFAN’s Boomer & Carton on Tuesday that Gilbride’s retirement “was definitely something that was hard for me to swallow.”
“It was a tough thing for me to hear,” Cruz said. “He was a guy who believed in my ability early on. Coming in as a rookie free agent, you have to have some guys that are in your corner, and he was 100 percent one of those people that really went out on a limb for me day-in and day-out, and really taught me how to play the game properly as a professional.”
The Giants finished 7-9 after a brutal 0-6 start, missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Everyone expected Gilbride to be the fall guy, especially after co-owner John Mara said he was “bitterly disappointed” in the 2013 season, pointing specifically to New York’s “broken” offense.
Tom Coughlin was reportedly gearing up for a fight to keep his coordinator. But Gilbride rendered it moot when he announced his retirement in early January.
“I understand it’s a business. And sometimes when you have seasons like the one we had last year, changes have to be made,” Cruz said. “And I think we made the right changes. I think we have an offense that’s gonna be high-octane. Sometimes you just need a fresh start and a new beginning, and guys to be excited about football again, to be excited about the offense and what they’re playing for.”
Cruz said the system under Ben McAdoo, who was hired after two seasons serving as Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach, will allow more freedom for the Giants’ receivers.
“There’s not a lot of thinking that’s involved,” Cruz told Boomer & Carton. “For the most part, it’s all about you have your route and you have to run it to the best of your ability, and that’s it. It’s pretty cut and dry. It allows us to just be free and play the game like we want to, like (when) we were kids in the backyard.”
Cruz said it’s “a little bit of a disappointment” not having Eli Manning taking snaps during offseason workouts. But at this point it’s more about being in the meeting room, where the quarterback, who had ankle surgery in April, has been putting in time learning McAdoo’s offense.
Then there are the additions. General manager Jerry Reese brought back wide receiver Mario Manningham in free agency and drafted a triple-threat playmaker in wideout Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12th overall pick. Boston College running back Andre Williams was selected in the fourth round.
Cruz said he feels good about the Giants’ busy offseason, “other than the fact that I feel like I’ve got to meet a new teammate every day.”
“I’m excited about what we have offensively,” he said. “I’m excited, man. I’m excited to get these plays down and understand this offense through-and-through so we can just go out there and play fast. And I think that’s what we want to do. I think we understand as athletes offensively that we have opportunities to put up a lot of points, to have a lot of fun, and really compete for another Super Bowl.”
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