Rest Of NFL Still Adjusting To Beckham’s New Normal
By Curt Macysyn
We would all have to be incredibly naive to think it wasn’t discussed at team meetings. In fact, it certainly seemed like the Carolina Panthers, and specifically Josh Norman, planned it last season. What is it? It’s the disrupt the superstar initiative. And since New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has turned over a new leaf, how are teams adjusting to his new normal?
Adjusting For The Haters
“One of the early joys of the NFL season was watching Giants games and waiting for the inevitable Odell Beckham Jr. meltdown,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Nov. 29, 2016.
Really? How many Giants games has this guy watched?
Newspapers in cities of the next opponent all crave something to write about, it’s the nature of the beast. Now, some cities really live and die with their football team. One place like that is Green Bay, where it’s all Packers, all the time.
Another place like that is Pittsburgh, where the fans think the Lombardi Trophy permanently resides. But their articles usually are high in entertainment value, but low on substance.
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The problem with painting Odell Beckham with a broad brush is very simple, and perhaps only understood after one follows the dynamic play-maker for more than 30 seconds.
He’s a full blown enigma.
When you cover Beckham on a regular basis, you understand that when he was made, the mold was broken. He’s a guy who can go out and entertain the masses in pregame. He smiles at the cameras and waves at the fans.
And then the game lights go on, and he turns into an uber-intense competitor. Basically, he’s the same guy on the same day, but he flips that competitive switch to the “ON” position.
“On an entertainment level though, the new, stable-ish OBJ is a loss. He was acting really weird, and it was funny. Now he’s back to being a generically great wide receiver. Where’s the fun in that?” rhetorically asks Sean Gentille.
What’s so weird about wanting to win? Humping the goal post, now that’s weird.
Adjusting For Giants Nation
Well, this country is all about generalities. It is easier for the average fan to deal with a sterotype, than it is to actually scratch below the surface. Write something bad about Beckham, it’s a bad article. Write something positive about OBJ, well it’s all good.
Opposing media can treat Beckham like a grandkid; fun to play with temporarily, and easy to drop off after the game. Readership won’t get upset about you dissing the opponent’s best player either.
Here’s an example: “Sadly, that’s been lost to the ages; the Giants are good — they haven’t lost since Oct. 9 — and Beckham has dealt with whatever feelings had made their way on to the field. Not coincidentally, he’s got seven receiving touchdowns in New York’s last six games,” said Gentille.
The problem with the before and after the kicking net scenario lies in its simplicity. Complex issues are never resolved in a simple narrative. How does one explain this fact? The game Beckham slammed the apparatus, was his second best game for receiving yards (121 yards vs. Washington) in 2016.
Did the temper tantrum affect his play that day? Or was this another opportunity to take two completely different situations and combine them into a simple, yet inaccurate, narrative?
Adjusting The Narrative
According to Pro Football Focus on Oct. 4, 2016, “Minnesota’s secondary accounted for five of the top six graded players on the defense. They were led by Xavier Rhodes, who allowed three catches for 23 yards on seven targets to Odell Beckham Jr. He also had the interception and a pass breakup. No secondary player allowed more than 36 receiving yards, and the group accounted for just 109 of the Giants’ 261 passing yards allowed.”
The loss at Minnesota was Beckham’s worst game of the season, and it was also the Giants worst game of the season. In terms of what came first, it was undoubtedly the stifling Vikings’ defense. Then came the temper tantrum.
In the three seasons I have been covering Beckham for various publications, Rhodes defensive play was the best I have seen. Last season against Carolina, Norman assaulted Beckham from the get-go.
These were two very different scenarios.
Fast forward to last week. The Browns’ Joe Haden made some plays against Odell Beckham, but not enough. At the end of the day, Haden could not contain Beckham for the entire 60 minutes. There are no ribbons for moral victories in the NFL.
This week, if the Steelers suppress Beckham’s stats, it will be because William Gay (84.3 PFF grade) and Ross Cockrell (80.0 PFF grade) do their respective jobs.