The New York Giants sent shock waves around the NFL on Monday afternoon with Odell Beckham Jr.’s historic contract. In an era in which it seems every big extension is preceded by an acrimonious negotiation or contentious hold-out, this deal seemed to get done relatively painlessly. And of course, considering the magnitude of the contract and the stature of the player, that contract has dominated the news cycle ever since.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that rather than talking about the Giants’ upcoming game against the New England Patriots, head coach Pat Shurmur was asked about Beckham in his press conference after practice on Tuesday.
Getting to know Odell
Since he arrived in the Giants’ facilities, Shurmur has made forging relationships with his plays a high priority. That already seems to be paying dividends with Odell Beckham Jr.’s remarkably amicable contract negotiation process. That all started with coach and player coming together and getting to know, and understand, each other.
“Well, like any player, I just wanted to get to know him,” Shurmur said, “and he certainly is an outstanding player and he’s going to help us win games and so I just wanted to get to know him like I did with the other players. That was it, just normal communication between a coach and a player and you’ve heard me say it before, we’re here as coaches to help the players be the best they can be. Part of that starts by understanding who they are as players.”
The biggest struggle for the Giants’ previous coaching staffs — both Tom Coughlin’s and Ben McAdoo’s — with regards to Beckham has been tempering and controlling his incredible passion for the game. It was an aspect of Beckham’s personality with which Shurmur quickly became acquainted.
“I’ve said it numerous times,” Shurmur said, “but he’s super passionate about football. What I’ve seen in this building and what I’ve learned early on is he really cares about what he’s doing. He trains extremely hard. All the things that you need to do, you want to be great and I think I saw that quickly and really haven’t been disappointed in any of that along the way.”
In building their relationship, Shurmur has tried to help Beckham with that part of his game.
We all need to control our bodies and our minds and I think that’s – We talk about that with the players constantly, making sure they keep their composure. There’s a real fine line from being competitive and then crossing that line. He’s no different than any other player and we all wrestle with it as competitors. When I was a player, I was involved in a fight or two myself, so I understand mentally how that plays out.
On Odell playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars
Beckham has yet to take the field in a pre-season game, and is highly unlikely to do so in the fourth game. Without work against a live opponent in a game situation, could Shurmur count on Beckham once the regular season arrives?
Shurmur seems to think so, saying, “There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be ready to go against Jacksonville.”
But while the Giants’ new coaching staff hasn’t gotten to see Beckham in a game, they did get to see him on the field in joint practices with the Detroit Lions.
“The Detroit week was big,” Shurmur said. “He got a chance to compete against some really fine corners and he did it in practice at a high level in really an uncontrolled setting, so we were able to see it then.”
Shurmur believes that Beckham will be ready to take the field against the Jags, but what about the rest of the team?
“Well, we’re going to find that out,” Shurmur said. “I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things. I think we’re on the right path. We’ve certainly got a lot of work to do between now and first week and then teams improve as the season goes along, so this is a game – it’s the ultimate team game, you have to practice this game and between the practice sessions, you play games. You do what you can to beat the opponent you’re playing on that Sunday and then you move on. It’s really a journey for a team to try to get enough wins to be in the playoffs and as you go through it, you hope as a team you stay healthy and then continue to improve.”