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Playbook: Wheel Route

The Giants used a wheel route play to perfection in their game against the Bears.

Here’s the play:

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’][/pro-player]

So, it’s a 4th down situation. Three wide, single back, one tight end. Eli Manning in the gun. Let’s diagram it.


So, the real importance of the play is centered around Manningham and Cruz. The Bears bring out two corners to cover them. Manningham is running a slant route. He’s not the primary read. He’s basically a decoy. Cruz is running behind him on a wheel route. Basically, Manningham and Cruz switch places. Cruz is running next to the sideline, while Manningham is running over the middle. For the defense, on their pre-snap read, they’re thinking the opposite. So, as they switch, the corners get tied up a bit. You’ll see in the video, how the corner covering Cruz is a half a step behind Cruz. He has to wait for Manningham to cross. Manningham is acting as a psudeo-pick, like in basketball. The corner has to pause for a beat, but that’s enough for Cruz to get a step on him. Eli then throws a perfect pass to Cruz, and they get the first down.

Nicks, and Beckum are not really options in this play. Eli has a hot read, and that’s Cruz. It’s a timing play. So if the pocket breaks down, Eli will probably see Bradshaw release into the flat.

This is the type of creative playcalling we don’t see enough of in Giants land. It’s only a preseason game, but we need to see more plays like this.

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6 Responses to “Playbook: Wheel Route”

  1. Shai says:

    With all due respect to the “great” Eli Manning, that was not done to perfection. A good throw would have resulted in a touchdown. Cruz had a step on the defender with no one in front of him, a leading pass could have resulted in a score. Instead, Eli underthrew it forcing Cruz to turn around and jump, catching the ball while FACING ELI. That’s only a good throw if there’s no field ahead of the WR, as in Hixon’s touchdown which was the same type of catch. Since that was back of the endzone, it’s a good throw to have him catch it facing the QB.
    But on this 4th down play to Cruz, he should have been led more and it could have been a 50 yard td instead of a 20 yard completion. At this point with Eli though, a completion is a pretty good result.

    • gorilla4realla says:

      your wrong if you watched the play cruz started running before the snap. he telegraphed the play to the db’s. but based on his spped and the ball being in the right spot he was able to make the play. in that wheel route he should have been running after manningham in order for the pick to be effectively set. he needed a half second delay.

      • Jason C. says:

        You’re absolutely right, he gave away the route, good thing for his athleticism. Also there was a safety in on the play, coming over from the nearside of the field, a ball thrown any further out could be knocked down. Either way I’ll take Ron Jaworski (I believe) saying it was a terrific throw over criticism from the band of Eli haters.

  2. tom frank says:

    No Jeremy is correct, it was a great throw. The play is not designed to go into the end zone. Eli is throwing to a specific spot and not trying to lead his receiver. The reason is because of the protection scheme and you will also see a safety over the top. If he tried to lead him towards the end zone it either would fall incomplete or be picked off. Its thrown there cause it gives the receiver the best opportunity to make a play one on one with the corner who has his back to him.

    This is the type of stuff that drives me crazy with Giants fans. Maybe 10% of them have any type of knowledge of the game of football. Go look at the reply again

  3. BlueManFla says:


    And chance you can diagnose the play that got Gilbride in Cruz’s face.

    Kind of like diagrams, what he should have done, and also what he did do that got Gilbride so upset.

  4. gorilla4realla says:

    you can also tell that the play wasn’t design to go down field by the drop the quaterback makes and also by the fact that the receiver is looking back for the ball after 5 yards. anyone with some football knowledge should be able to read and diagnose a play.
    #things casual fans will never understand.

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