Victor Cruz may not have played for the Giants, or any other team in 2017, but he still kept a close eye on his former club.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver and member of the Super Bowl XLVI champions, Cruz believes that a rash of injuries is was largely to blame for the Giants 3-13 season.
"The first thing that comes to mind is injuries," he said. "When you have that many injuries at all your skill positions, all your spots, it's kind of hard to put gameplans together and hard to win and be successful. That's a tough thing to go through for any organization ... And then there were some decision-making things that obviously we weren't all in agreement with, that left us scratching our heads a little bit, in terms of the benching of Eli (Manning) and things like that."
Even with the injuries and questionable decisions, Cruz is optimistic the Giants will bounce back in 2018 under new head coach Pat Shurmur.
"From what I've heard, he's a tremendous coach and I think he's a great offensive mind," Cruz said. "The receiving corps, and I know all those guys personally, will get to flourish. ... You've got to expect them to do some really good things in the passing game, and as an offense as a whole in order to be successful.
Cruz also expects a return to form from All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who fractured his ankle in Week 5.
"I expect great things," he said. "I speak to him all the time. He's doing great. Obviously he's training again and feeling good. He's got a lot of confidence, and I expect him to prove that he's one of the best in the game."
Cruz, 31, played five seasons for the Giants and amassed back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2011 and 2012 and missed a third consecutive 1,000-season by two yards in 2013, despite playing in only 14 games. Cruz suffered a torn patella tendon against the Eagles on Oct. 12, 2014 and missed the rest of the year and the entire 2015 season. He returned in 2016, totaling 586 receiving yards in 15 games. Cruz finished his career 10th on the Giants' all-time receiving list with 4,549 yards.
Cruz signed with the Bears in the offseason but was released on Sept. 2. Even though he missed the entire season for the second time in three years, he's still not ready to call it quits.
"I'm still training to play," Cruz said. "I definitely want to give it one more shot and see what football has in store for me. ... I just want to make sure that football is completely out of my system before I hang them up."