I really love that nickname, even though he can play anywhere.
In the NFL, preparation and game planning is a function of probability and tendency. The game is defined by matchups, some more visible and seemingly more important than others, particularly in the passing game.
What I find truly fascinating in Super Bowl 46 is the matchup of the Giants 3 wide receiver personnel versus the Patriots pass defense. As we know, Victor Cruz almost always aligns in the slot when the Giants go 3 wide. Cruz was the most productive slot receiver in the NFL in 2011. I charted every one of his catches in the regular season and the 3 post-season wins, and the numbers were truly revealing. 75% of his receptions, and 77% of his yards came from the slot. There is no question thatís a strong tendency.
Recall what Cruz did to San Franciscoís Carlos Rogers in the NFC Championship game. Rogers was the slot corner in the 49ers nickel sub-package. He had an excellent year in that role, a Pro Bowl year. In the first half, with Rogers predominantly matched man-to-man, Cruz had 8 catches for 125 yards.
The paramount point is Cruz is a very difficult assignment in the slot. As I turn my attention to the Super Bowl, Iím struggling to get a handle on the Patriots matchup approach. All season, Bill Belichick has mixed and matched in his secondary, using an unforeseen combination of undrafted and street free agents, and wide receivers like Matt Slater and Julian Edelman. When the Patriots and Giants played back in early November, the nickel corner was Philip Adams, who three weeks later, was released.