Does Eli Manning make his receiving corps of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham look better? Or did having such a talented crop of wideouts enable Manning to post his best season ever?
The correct answer is both, and Manning -- though he did not want to compare his receivers to league-wide competitors -- acknowledged during a press conference on Wednesday that he is well aware how well his targets are playing as the Giants prepare to meet the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
"I don't know how to rate every other receiving corps. I'm not really concerned with the other guys. I like our receivers. I like the way they work. I like the way they support each other. They all are very confident in themselves. They don't have an ego that distracts from the team or each other. Whether it's Hakeem (Nicks) scoring touchdowns or Victor (Cruz) or Mario (Manningham), they all are the first ones to go congratulate each other. That shows that they truly appreciate the work that goes into scoring touchdowns. I don't have favorites right now. I'm reading the coverages. I'm going to whoever's getting open," Manning said.
Cruz emerged from the land of unknown to set a franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards, adding nine touchdowns. Manning said he has been impressed by Cruz's quick ascent and noted the chemistry the pair has developed.
"Victor, I give a lot of credit to him. He plays a tough position in that slot with a lot of decisions to make. Last year when Steve Smith got hurt for awhile, we tried to move some other guys around, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. I think they realized how tough it is in there. It is a different reaction. It's not as specific exactly what your route is. It's more of a, ‘Have a great feel, get open, find a zone, find a lane.' You have to be very clear with your body language to tell me what you're doing," Manning said.
"That's something Victor has done a great job with. (He's) very definitive in his route running and body language. I know exactly what he's doing. If you can do it and you can master that, it's a great way to get a lot of catches in the middle of the field, in the slot spot. It's pretty impressive in what he's been able to do in his first year of really playing that position and playing in the NFL."