It would have been easy on Friday afternoon to jump straight into an “Odell Beckham Jr. should just shut up and play better” rant or otherwise rip him for using an ESPN interview to vent his frustrations at his teammates over the New York Giants 1-3 start.
I’ll admit. The first thing that came to mind was “here goes Beckham, making it about him again.”
This, though, is one of the reasons why, after 11 years here at Big Blue View and 40 years of writing for a living, I try not to do “hot takes.” They can be great reads. They can get reactions, good or bad. They can also be wrong.
Was Beckham venting frustration at the team’s 1-3 record and poor offensive start, was he throwing his quarterback and his other teammates under the bus when he questioned their energy and said the Giants”need to play with some heart?” Was he saying “look at me, I’m doing everything and these guys are dragging me down?” Was this Beckham speaking out of turn and causing an unnecessary headache for Pat Shurmur.
Or, was Beckham — more mature in his fifth season from everything we have seen to this point and with the richest contract ever given to a wide receiver in his pocket — trying to step up, trying to get his teammates’ attention, trying to hold them accountable?
Here's the Beckham video you can watch yourself https://t.co/img996BOxP— Dan Pizzuta (@DanPizzuta) October 5, 2018
Was this Beckham’s Antrel Rolle moment? You remember back in 2011 when Rolle called out his teammates, in particular defensive captain Justin Tuck, and the Giants went on a Super Bowl run. That’s the view expressed by Art Stapleton of northjersey.com.
Was this Beckham, as Pat Traina wrote for Forbes, trying to be a leader?
Beckham’s teammates didn’t have a problem with what he said. Shurmur didn’t seem to have a problem with it, basically telling reporters to go find Beckham and clarify what he meant.
Having thought about it for a day, I don’t have a problem with it, either.
Beckham is the Giants’ heartbeat. He is their energy source. Beckham is for the Giants what Reggie Jackson once called himself for the Yankees, “the straw that stirs the drink.”
In retrospect, I think Beckham tried to deliver his message about losing not being acceptable on Thursday during his weekly locker room scrum with the media. During that chat he used the word “energy” 12 times.
That barely registered on anyone’s radar. Perhaps, and we don’t know for sure because Beckham wasn’t in the locker room during Friday’s media session to clarify anything, he felt that when he spoke to ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he would have to go a step further to get the impact he was hoping for. Thus, the word “heart.” Or, maybe he didn’t mean to go there at all.
Beckham is right that the Giants need to be better on offense. He’s right that they need to challenge defenses down the field more often. He’s right that you need to put in the work all week and not just on Sunday. He’s right that their season isn’t doomed because of their 1-3 start, although the heartbeat — sorry — is faint.
Maybe Beckham’s words will spur his teammates. Also, though, Beckham needs to play better.
Yes, Eli Manning has missed Beckham on a few throws — throws that he needs to make. The fact that Beckham hasn’t gotten into the end zone and is averaging a career-low 10.7 yards per catch is not, though, all Manning’s fault. Or, the offensive line’s fault. Or, Shurmur’s fault.
Beckham has admitted to being hesitant at times to reach for the extra gear that made him special. He said Thursday that “I don’t feel like I can be covered,” but at times he has been covered — even 1-on-1. There are examples of both missed throws and times Beckham isn’t open in the video below.
A full collection of 2018 Odell Beckham "deep" targets (16+ yards the field) pic.twitter.com/Nc3KKcRwym— Dan Pizzuta (@DanPizzuta) October 1, 2018
If Beckham is trying to lead, which I think he is, that’s good. He should. As I said, he’s the team’s heartbeat. He is the face of the franchise.
The Giants, though, will look like they have a lot more energy and heart when they are playing better. When they stop making mistakes and going backwards more than 17 percent of the time as an offense.
They need Beckham doing the things on the field that made him special to make that happen.