So much for this being just another quiet offseason day as we discuss the New York Giants and continue to painstakingly count the days until training camp begins. Today, we get to talk Odell Beckham Jr., which should liven things up a bit. That’s because we have arrived at Beckham as we continue player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster
2016 Season in Review
Beckham had a career-high 101 receptions, cracked the 1,000-yard barrier for the third straight season (1,367 yards) and made the Pro Bowl again. He was third in the league in catches of 25 yards or more, with 14. There is also this from Pro Football Focus that attests to how dangerous Beckham is once he catches the ball:
No WR forced more missed tackles on receptions in 2016 than Odell Beckham Jr. pic.twitter.com/bwXe02cAMI— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 19, 2017
Truth is, though, when you really dive into Beckham’s numbers a case can be made that in many ways 2016 was the least productive receiving season of his three-year career.
Beckham’s yards per reception (13.5) was a career low. He also had career lows in touchdowns (10), yards receiving per game (85.4) and percentage of targets caught (59.4 percent). Beckham had only four 100-yard receiving games. He had seven in 12 games as a rookie and eight in 2015. He also had a career-high six dropped passes, perhaps affected by a troublesome thumb injury.
Beckham returned 10 punts for 66 yards (6.6 yards per return), but had a couple of long returns negated by penalties.
Beckham had a dismal game in the Giants’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. He was officially credited with a season-high three drops, and two in the first quarter cost the Giants at least 10 points. He ended the game with four catches for a measly 28 yards.
There were also the usual assortment of Beckham-related off-the-field histrionics. Among them:
- Taking a swing at a kicking net, and having it hit back
- Eventually proposing to said kicking net
- The pre-playoff game boat trip
- Punching a hole in a wall after losing to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs
Once the season was over GM Jerry Reese didn’t soft shoe around the ongoing issue of Beckham and his maturity, or occasional lack of it:
"I see a guy who needs to think about some of the things that he does. Everybody knows he's a gifted player, but there's some things that he's done that he needs to look at himself in the mirror and be honest with himself about some of the things that he's done. I think he'll do that. We'll help him with that, but he has to help himself and we believe he'll do that. He's a smart guy, but sometimes he doesn't do smart things." ...
"We all had to grow up at different times in our lives. I think it's time for him to do that," Reese said. "He's been here for three years now. He's a little bit of a lightning rod because of what he does on the football field, but the things he does off the football field, he's got to be responsible for those things. We'll talk through it. I know he's a smart guy. I believe he understands that he has a responsibility being one of the faces of this franchise. I think he'll accept that responsibility."
2017 Season Outlook
Let’s recognize that any drop-off in Beckham’s production last season was not entirely his fault. Drops are drops, of course, and the only person to blame for those is the person who dropped the ball. So, the responsibility for his regular-season drops and his missed catches against the Packers falls solely on Beckham.
The rest of it, though? That, quite honestly, had little to do with Beckham and a whole lot to do with the dysfunction of the offense around him.
There was the incessant over-reliance on “11” personnel, which contributed greatly to making the Giants predictable and easy to defend. The view here is that was less about rookie head coach Ben McAdoo being stubborn and more about McAdoo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan believing that the players they had really didn’t leave them with a lot of good options. As much as we begged around here for more flexibility in the offense, they might have been right.
That’s because a lot of the players around Beckham weren’t very good, or at least as good as the Giants expected them to be. Sterling Shepard had a good rookie year, but the ball seemed to head his way less often as the season progressed. Victor Cruz was a nice comeback story, but he really wasn’t very good while miscast on the outside. The tight ends didn’t give the Giants much. Shane Vereen spent most of the season on IR. The Giants didn’t run the ball as well as they needed to for most of the season. The offensive tackles too often left an uncomfortable Eli Manning looking to simply get rid of the ball as fast as he could rather than really survey his options for the best possible target.
All of that meant that far too often, and for the second straight year, the only real chance the Giants had on offense was for Manning to throw the ball to Beckham. Defenses knew that and played accordingly, tightening the windows and making it more difficult for Manning and Beckham to create magic.
This year should be different.
Brandon Marshall has replaced Cruz, and should be a significant upgrade. Shepard should be better in his sophomore season. Evan Engram was drafted as a seam-buster and red zone threat, and the combination of Engram and Marshall should give the Giants more ways to attack opposing secondaries. Vereen is healthy, and when he is right he provides Manning with an excellent pass-catching weapon out of the backfield. Rhett Ellison should help the running game.
Maybe Beckham will catch 100 or more passes again. Maybe, with the variety of targets Manning has, the Giants won’t need to go to Beckham quite as often. What the Giants have to hope for is that their reloaded offensive arsenal creates more space for Beckham to operate, increasing the chance that when they do send the ball his way he can make magic happen.
Oh, and no boat trips, holes punched in walls, or proposals to inanimate objects would also be nice.
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