Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is now a member of the Chicago Bears, and he had some strong words for his former team. Once the dust settles, it is likely that he could play a key role in the development of the Bears’ offense. Is Victor Cruz the offensive upgrade that the Chicago Bears need?
After a two-week recruitment period, Victor Cruz entertained several options in free agency. After mulling a few offers, the former New York Giants’ star signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN. Cruz’s deal is yet another in a string of single-season contracts the Bears handed out this offseason. If it pays off, the Bears will be able to show some legitimate improvement on offense. It would be a timely rise given the fact the expectations are low.
The addition of Cruz is a mild upgrade to the Bears’ receiving corps. How much of a true impact may not be realized immediately, but a boost in the classroom should become noticeably.
Victor Cruz instantly makes the Chicago Bears’ receiving unit smarter, poised, and respectable. Prior to his signing, the Bears did not have a receiver established enough to command a double-team with any regularity. Third-year wideout Cameron Meredith had a breakout season last year, but he has to pick up where he left off before opposing teams began planning to stop his targets.
Getting off the line of scrimmage in a cleaner fashion, gaining separation, and finishing plays are all things Meredith needs to work on. Having Victor Cruz around as a mentor will aide Meredith in his progression.
Not only will Cameron Meredith benefit from Victor Cruz signing with the Chicago Bears, but so will the rest of the Bears’ offense. That includes quarterback Mike Glennon, who can use all of the weapons on the offensive end as he can get.
Throwing to the likes of the aforementioned Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, and Kendall Wright is what Glennon was originally faced with. Now he has a motivated Victor Cruz added to the mix of receivers.
Cruz gives Glennon a reliable target to throw the football to. That will be important for the quarterback’s confidence going forward. Victor Cruz is a legitimate deep threat who will allow the Bears, primarily Mike Glennon, be able to stretch the field. Simply by him lining up on the football field, it will take the pressure off of his Bears’ teammates.
The biggest question about Victor Cruz and him signing with the Chicago Bears will be if he can hold up?
When healthy, Cruz is a handful to cover. In the last three years of his seven seasons with the Giants, the Pro Bowl receiver missed 27 out of 48 games. On a positive note, 15 of the games in which Cruz played in came last season. And 12 of those games were starts.
Despite remaining healthy last year, Victor Cruz did not have the numbers he is accustomed to. He finished the season with 39 receptions for 586 yards and one touchdown score. He was targeted 72 times.
The new Chicago Bears receiver puts the blame for the slippage in production (courtesy of the New York Post) on the New York Giants, who released him earlier in the spring.
“A lot of people probably don’t know this: Let’s say I played well, was a 1,000-yard receiver last year, it would have been more difficult from a fan perspective to cut me. If I’m a 1,000-yard guy, they’re like, ‘Why are you cutting Cruz? He just had 1,000 yards and had five or six touchdowns. That doesn’t make sense.'”
Cruz continued revealing his feelings regarding his final year with the New York Giants.
“But if I have 500 yards or whatever the case may be, it’s a little easier on the fans to be like, ‘Oh, he didn’t play well, so that’s why they cut him.’ And if I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year so it was like, ‘Let’s get Cruz off the books.'”
Whether that was the Giants’ thinking behind Cruz’s lack of targets and opportunities to boost his numbers remains to be seen. As of now, he comes across as motivated. With a season full of plenty uncertainties, the Chicago Bears are hoping that Victor Cruz remains motivated and once again establishes himself as a top 15-level wide receiver.
[Featured Image by Al Bello/Getty Images]