Ben McAdoo hopeful Victor Cruz and JPP will make impact

Posted Feb 24, 2016

Ben McAdoo spoke on a number of Giants offseason topics from the NFL Combine

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Giants coach Ben McAdoo today expressed hope that both Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul will contribute to the team in 2016.

Cruz has played in just six games in two seasons – none last year – because of knee and calf injuries, and JPP was on the field for just eight games in 2015 after missing the first half of the season while recovering from his July 4 fireworks accident.

Speaking at a news conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis – his first public comments since he replaced Tom Coughlin last month – McAdoo was asked if he expects Cruz to be on the team this year.

“Absolutely,” McAdoo said. “Right now we’re taking a look at things and he’s on the roster right now. If anything changes, I’ll be the first to know.”

From 2011-13, Cruz averaged 80.3 receptions, 1,208.7 yards and 7.7 touchdown per season. But on Oct. 12, 2014, he tore his right patellar tendon in Philadelphia and missed the remainder of the season. He tried to come back last year, but a lingering calf injury never improved, necessitating another surgery.

Cruz has been diligently working in an effort to return to the field.

“Victor Cruz had a successful procedure done,” McAdoo said. “He feels good, he looks good, he’s coming along in rehab. No hiccups there so far, we like that, we’re encouraged with that right there. We have some other guys that are going to have a chance to step up, possibly some young guys. Again, it’s still early in the process.

“He was by the office the other day just kind of bouncing around, he was doing some rehab. He seems in good spirits, looks great, feels good. Hopefully, we have a chance to get him healthy.”

Pierre-Paul had just one sack in his eight games, but made numerous other plays – including six passes defensed and two fumble recoveries – and flashed the ability that made him a two-time Pro Bowler.

“It was obvious when Jason came back last year how disruptive he was without playing football for a long time,” McAdoo said. “Just coming in and having a couple weeks to get his feet underneath him, being able to go out and be disruptive as a pass rusher. I just think when you look at him and his ability to get off the ball and get after the quarterback, it’s easy to see and that’s something that comes natural for him. You don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon? I don’t either.”

JPP recently had another surgery on his hand.

“I spoke to Jason a couple of different times so far throughout the offseason,” McAdoo said. “He seems in good spirits. He went through a procedure and we’ll have to see how that goes.”
McAdoo was also questioned about Rashad Jennings, who had both of his 100-yard games and 351 of his 863 rushing yards in the season’s final three weeks. Did Jennings show enough for McAdoo to forego a platoon system to give the veteran the bulk of the carries?

“We’re going to take a look,” McAdoo said. “We studied our players. We’re going through, we’re studying our scheme right now. We’ll take a look at free agency, we’ll take a look at the draft, we’re going to study some other teams, and we’re going to study some college teams. We’re going to put it all in the pot, we’re going to stir it up. We’re going to get to training camp, we’re going to come out of camp, and we’re going to take a look at things there and how the roster looks and how we look up front. Coming out of camp, we’ll determine that. It’s way too early”

McAdoo was asked about numerous other subjects, including…

•  Seeing Coughlin, who has occasionally visited the Giants offices.

“(It’s) not awkward at all,” McAdoo said. “I respect Tom. Have talked to him a few different times since he left. I feel we have a strong relationship. I’m going to bounce ideas off Tom as long as I can bounce ideas off of Tom. He’s someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and I’m grateful for everything that I learned from him.”

•  On how he expects to interact with general manager Jerry Reese on draft day.

“Jerry and I, we’re attached at the hip,” McAdoo said. “Lines of communication are open, we’ve had productive dialogue, and whatever he needs from me, I’m willing to do. I look forward to building that relationship.”

•  His thoughts as he evaluates the Giants’ 2015 season.

“We’re still right in the middle of scheme evaluation,” McAdoo said. “We haven’t hit the situational part of things yet. We worked through normal down and distance, obviously the player evaluations. What’s interesting before you get to situations and you’re looking at the normal down and distance, we’ve had a lot of leads in games in the fourth quarter when you’re looking at the scoreboard in between plays. We have to end the game with the lead, and that’s going to be important to us. That’s not something that we’re going beat into the ground with these guys, but that’s something we have to learn from last year and find a way to close these games out.”

•  Does finding pass-rushers top his “to-do” list?

“The quickest way to get better is up front on both sides of the ball,” McAdoo said. “You have to protect your quarterback and you have to get after the other team’s quarterback. It’s directly related to the QB rating differential, which is important in winning and losing games. You want to do a better job getting after the quarterback, whether it’s up front or whether it’s coming from the secondary, putting pressure there from the linebacker level. But you have to make the quarterback comfortable, certainly.”

•  On whether he will call the offensive plays.

“You know what, that hasn’t been decided yet,” McAdoo said. “We’ll take a look at a couple different scenarios moving forward. But like I said in the past, that’s a schematic advantage, so I’m not going to talk about that.

“We may give everybody a call sheet on opening day. No, that’s something that we’re going to work through that process and whatever we feel is best for the Giants, that’s what we’re going to do.”

•  On his time working for Mike McCarthy in Green Bay.

“Green Bay is obviously a special place for me and my family,” McAdoo said. “Having a chance to win the Super Bowl there, and be a part of some great teams and a great organization. You take a little bit from everywhere you’ve been, and obviously I’m going to take a lot from Green Bay and a lot from my experience in two years with the Giants and some other places in the past. You take that and you mold it and you make it your own.”

•  On whether he will change the strength and conditioning program because of the numerous injuries the Giants have suffered in recent seasons.

“(New strength and conditioning coach) Aaron Wellman and I go back a little ways,” McAdoo said. “I’ve had my eye on him for a while. I think he does a tremendous job. He’s a forward thinker and that’s something that’s important to me. He can still crack the whip, if need be, and that’s hard to find in today’s league. He’ll do a tremendous job.

“As far as the injuries go, you can’t just point to one thing. Injuries, you have to look at a variety of things that impact injuries. Whether it’s the way we practice, whether it’s the way we hydrate, the way we sleep, the way we recover - you just can’t point to one thing and say that’s going to cure everything as far as the injuries go. But we’re going to look at a variety of things there.”