As the New York Giants relish a victory over the Baltimore Ravens and turn their attention to a trip to England to face the Los Angeles Rams, it’s time to offer some thoughts on the 3-3 Giants. Yep, it’s time for this week’s “Five things I think I think.” And yes, I’m already ducking.
The Odell Beckham soap opera will continue
Sigh. Even after the greatest game of his career, definitely in terms of yardage gained and probably in terms of both toughness shown by playing through injury and impact on winning. Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t avoid the negative spotlight.
I’m going to say this, and those of you who have been vehemently defending Beckham after Sunday’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty are not going to like it. Those who have been criticizing Beckham since Sunday afternoon are not wrong. He’s a great talent, but Louis Riddick is right to call him a “me” player. Eli Manning is right when he says, basically, the production is the only thing that makes the circus around Beckham tolerable.
Maybe I’m old-school, or just old. I don’t mind celebrating, players need to be allowed to do that, but I yearn for the day when it was about the team and not about what a player can do to get the camera on himself.
Think about this. What if that had been Roger Lewis acting like that, getting a penalty at the end of the game? Fans would be calling him all sorts of names and wanting him run out of town. Remember Damontre Moore? The Giants let him go because, basically, he had Beckham’s immaturity but not his talent.
What if that penalty had cancelled out all of Beckham’s heroics and cost the Giants the game — and quite possibly any chance they have to climb back into the playoff race? Would you still be defending him?
Beckham gets away with what he gets away with because he’s an extraordinary talent. The penalty was absolutely justified, again whether you want to believe that or not. Beckham was being selfish, including whole cute but obviously attention-seeking scene with the net, and put his team in a tough spot. Coach Ben McAdoo was right to be unhappy about it, right to say ”We need to keep our focus on the ball game.” Beckham’s focus was clearly on putting on a show, even though it made closing out the game harder on the rest of his teammates.
If you want to argue about the whole taking the helmet off rule itself and the NFL’s insistence on throwing flags for just about anything that doesn’t involve just handing the ball to an official and running off the field, that’s a different argument. And I’ll take your side, because the league has gone overboard. By the rules, though, Beckham was correctly penalized.
Hate on the media if you must. Hate on me if you must for not genuflecting at the feet of Beckham’s on-field greatness and believing everything else is OK because of his talent. Reality is, the Beckham-bashing in the media is going to continue until the silliness stops. And it won’t stop unless Beckham truly wants it to. Right now, I have doubts he really wants that. As long as he continues to produce at historic levels, we just have to live with the sideshow.
Giants can’t afford to stumble
I don’t think it’s going overboard to say that the Giants salvaged their season with Sunday’s victory. That’s because the NFC East is no joke this season. The way the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys and 4-2 Washington Redskins are playing it is pretty obvious that nine wins isn’t going to be enough to win the division. It might not even be enough to earn a wild-card spot. An early look at the NFC playoff picture tells you that.
The Giants stayed relevant by beating Baltimore. I know we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the season, but it really isn’t early any longer.
I said last week that the Giants needed to go at least 4-2 over their next six games. So far, so good but I look at the next five games — in London vs. the Los Angeles Rams, then hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears before going on the road to face the Cleveland Browns and wonder if I need to revise that. I think maybe they need to go 4-1 over those next five games., which would mean 5-1 over that six-game stretch. Going 4-2 overall might still put them in position to make a run, but their path won’t be an easy one.
Andrew Adams has earned the right to play
The Missile is back! Nat Berhe tweeted Monday that, after missing the last two games, he has been cleared from the concussion protocol and can return to action this week against the Los Angeles Rams.
That’s good news. Berhe played well before being concussed, and the Giants will certainly benefit from his being available. It doesn’t, however, mean that Andrew Adams should automatically take a seat.
The undrafted rookie free agent from UConn has played well, much better than could have been expected, in the three games he has started. He has earned the right to play. For that matter, so has Berhe. It’s a pleasant problem for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to have.
Pass interference has become like the catch
We all know that ever time officiating czar Dean Blandino tries to explain what a catch is that he really has no idea, that he’s basically making up explanations to support whatever conclusion the league and the officials come to on a given play. Nobody actually knows what a catch is any longer.
Problem is, pass interference is getting to be the same way. Nobody has any idea when a flag will, or won’t, be thrown. The ridiculous PI call on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Sunday was awful. The non-call on Julio Jones in the Atlanta-Seattle game as equally atrocious.
PI call in #BALvsNYG was not correct. Official almost seemed to confuse offense and defense.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 16, 2016
Even the explanation DRC got from the official was bizarre. DRC said after the game he was told that the infraction occurred early in the route, not at the end. If that’s the case, why is it a spot foul instead of a 10-yard penalty? Good luck figuring that one out.
I’m not necessarily in favor of making pass interference reviewable. If you’re going to do that you pretty much have to make every play, and every penalty, reviewable. The end of NBA games has become a joke, with officials running to the monitor to check even the most basic of calls — consequently causing the end of games to drag on interminably.
I would hate to see that. I understand pass interference is a judgment call with players moving at a high rate of speed and often competing for the ball. I don’t know what the answer is, I just know that too many times the flag seems arbitrary and officials are getting this wrong.
The defense deserves props for Sunday
While all of the attention was focused on Beckham’s amazing second half and Manning 400-yard passing day, the play of the defense is what made Sunday’s victory possible for the Giants.
After the Giants fell behind, 10-0, the Giants forced Baltimore to punt on five consecutive possessions. That gave the sputtering offense a chance to find its footing.
A goal line stand late that culminated with the stop by Jonathan Casillas on the first play of the fourth quarter was a monumental turning point in the game. The stand at the end of the game, working around the Beckham penalty and a roughing the passer by Owamagbe Odighizuwa, was also outstanding.
Spagnuolo dialed up some creative blitzes reminiscent of the first couple of games of the season and the secondary once again played well.