Once is an event; Twice is a coincidence; Three times is a trend.
Buffalo's defense will provide a true measure of Big Blue's offense.
New York Giants
The Empire State
NEW YORK GIANTS: Tom Coughlin's double-barreled, or even triple barreled offense will have to wait just a little while longer to fire.
ICYMI > DEFENSE: No Pass Rush Offers Pockets of Opportunity
Unfortunately, Victor Cruz' troublesome left calf injury did not respond to a platelet-rich plasma injection well enough, or quickly enough for Sunday's game.
He has been listed as OUT for Week Four, officially scrubbing the first quarter of his season.
This will be Cruz' 14th straight regular season game missed due to injury. He is fast approaching a full year off the NFL gridiron. He last played a regular season game on October 13, 2014 during Week Six in Philadelphia. Moreover, October 5th was the last time Giants fans saw him play at Met-Life Stadium.
Through the first two weeks of this season, the opposition found little reason not to double team Odell Beckham Jr. in Cruz' absence, largely because Preston Parker and Rueben Randle contributed little or nothing towards alleviating the situation.
That quickly developed into an untenable situation. After barely making the roster out of camp, Preston Parker was subsequently cut by Jerry Reese after a woeful display of receiving skills in Week Two.
That in turn left Rueben Randle square in the cross hairs of Jerry Reese, the media, and fans alike.
Jerry Reese gambled and lost by taking a flyer on Preston Parker last season and again during the pres-season. Rueben Randle, however, was no stab in the dark. Jerry Reese utilized a 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft to secure him.
Rueben started just 4 games through his first 2 seasons, then made 13 starts last season and made 71 receptions for 938 yards with 3 touchdowns.
If Preston Parker's problem was failing to catch the ball, Randle's, then, was failing to provide Eli Manning with a viable target. Eli only targeted him 7 times through the first two games against the Cowboys and Falcons, in which Rueben made 4 receptions for a total of 28 rather inconsequential yards.
But with the spotlight squarely on him in Week Three, Rueben Randle delivered a performance closer to what Jerry Reese had in mind when he selected Randle 63rd overall.
Both of Eli Manning's TD passes during last weeks' 32-21 victory over Washington came in the 4th quarter. He first connected with OBJ, then with Randle to seal the game. Eli targeted Rueben 7 times throughout the game, whom made all 7 receptions for 116 yards, while OBJ made 7 receptions for 79 seemingly supportive yards (but we know better...).
That said, without Victor Cruz the only way to take pressure off OBJ, then, is with performance.
That brings us to Sunday in Buffalo and Rex Ryan, whom knows a thing or two about orchestrating a defense. Once Rex takes Odell Beckham Jr. away from Eli Manning (because that's what he'll aim to do), will the Giants be able to turn to their seemingly matured 4th year receiver for a second straight week and beyond?
In the meantime, it hasn't mattered if Kevin Gilbride or Ben McAdoo have been offensive coordinators in this small respect - Tom Coughlin wants balance. Make no mistake, he's a chucker, but he usually asks for balance.
Last week the Giants ran 31 times and threw 32 times. Weeks One and Two went similarly. But they only rushed for 84 yards on a day the offense generated 30 points. End of discussion, right?
C'mon, you know me better. At some point this weekend, I heard the words - short controlled passing game - and they disturb me to my core.
On the bright side, the Giants were thought to have broken down a fairly solid Washington defense. On the dimmer side, if Washington was able to restrict the Giants to just 84 rushing yards, what will Rex Ryan be able to do?
Remember how Ben McAdoo called on Rashad Jennings in what should have been the closing drive of Game One in Dallas? Coach called Rashad's name 6 times, and asked him to run up the gut 5 times. Rashad responded with a net 49 yards.
There's been no commitment to the run since, merely an effort to present balance. That won't work against Rex. In fact, everywhere I look I feel Ryan has an answer that perfectly defies what Coughlin tries to do. Therefore, it's Coach who needs to find his own way of giving Buffalo's defense some pause. That's a philosophical adjustment.
Faced with his own aggressive style, I'm sure Rex Ryan would say release the tight end, execute screens and draws, etc. Sounds like good advice to me. It's just not the Giants way under Coughlin.
In any event, Buffalo's defense will provide a true measure of Big Blue's offense.
Did I mention the tight end?
His name is Larry Donnell. Use him.