I decided to wait before giving posting my thoughts on Odell Beckham Jr. During this waiting period I have read countless articles touching on Odell. Almost all of them talking about his need to “grow up”. They talked about his need to control his off the field antics and stop being so “Hollywood”. I agree with all of these points but I am also going to take this a step further. Odell’s antics are no longer just effecting him but it is now having a negative effect on the entire team.
I’ll start by looking at the makeup of the Giants last two Super Bowl teams. In both of these Super Bowl runs there were three things that were consistent in both. In both the Giants had an Elite defense, Tom Coughlin as a coach and Eli Manning under center. If we look at this year’s team they had two of those three. The Giants defense was playing as good as any defense in the league by the end of the season. Anyone who watched them could appreciate how great they played. This Giants defense carried the team to the playoffs and did so with an offense that was one of the worst in the league. Although Eli struggled this season you can’t really blame him for his struggles. Sure he missed some passes but he also had to deal with a horrid offensive line and one of the worst run games in the league. Pair all of these struggles with questionable play calling and you have an environment that any Quarterback would struggle in. With that being said Eli looked like very good in the Giants loss to the Packers. His passes were on target and if not for the multitude of drops from receivers that success would’ve shown up in the stat sheet. Eli hasn’t lost a step the environment in which he plays in has.
So that brings us to the one thing the Giants didn’t have from those past Super Bowl runs, Tom Coughlin. I never agreed with the letting go of Tom Coughlin. I looked at Coughlin and said the issues that plagued the Giants had nothing to do with him. They had to do with a lack of talent on both sides of the ball and questionable play calling. When he was let go I strongly disagreed with the hiring of McAdoo. McAdoo was a huge part of the struggles in past seasons. His questionable play calling led to their inability to close games and I felt he should’ve been fired instead of Coughlin.
Coughlin was never I guy I wanted for X’s and O’s purposes. He wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel on offense or employ some crazy defensive scheme. He wasn’t going to give you the outlandish press conference or give you a team that seems unbeatable. The one thing he brought to the Giants was discipline. Coughlin created an environment that oozed of greatness. He created an environment that was team based and he would deal with no other distractions. When players stepped out of line they were held accountable for their actions. Throughout this season as a whole there was a constant theme. Odell Beckham the distraction. The constant temper tantrums, the kicking net incidents and his larger than life personality were something that hampered this team early on in the season. This is where I began to praise Ben McAdoo. He handled the shaky start and brought this team together. He seemed to have the respect of every player in the locker room and had instituted a winning culture. They finished the season 11-5 and after the Redskins win I had little doubt that the Giants would be a threat in the playoffs.
That was until I saw the pictures surface from the Miami boat trip. It had nothing to do with the fact they partied. It had nothing to do with them not thinking about football on there off day. It had everything to do with what it told us about this team. It showed that this team was distracted and cocky rather than determined and confident. Tom Coughlin teams never displayed these qualities. Tom Coughlin’s teams would talk their fair share of trash but they also would back it up on the field. Tom Coughlin’s teams let their play show everyone how good they were. They didn’t need to catch the ball with one hand before games or wear the freshest cleats to show their greatness. They well just went out and won games. This team was more into talking then actually playing. Now I don’t blame McAdoo for this coming to be. I don’t think he told the receiving core go party with Bieber or warmup with your shirt off before the team’s first playoff game in 4 seasons.
I put the blame mostly on one man. That man is Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham is the best player on this team from a talent stand point. He is the best receiver in the league when he is locked in and no one can match his talent. Add in the fact that he is a mega star and he has more than enough sway in this locker room. His actions rub off on the rest of the team whether he realizes it or not. Let’s not hide this fact. Do you think Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis get invited to this Miami party without Odell? Do you think the handful of players who warmed up shirtless before the game would have done this without Odell Beckham? I guarantee you neither of these things happen.
Odell is starting to remind me of two former Giants talents that never helped the Giants to win Super bowls. We all remember Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Both thought they were bigger than the team. Both were more bark than bite. Neither played a major role in the Giants winning a title. In fact, the year after Tiki retired the Giants ended up winning its first title since 1991. Odell needs to not only use those examples to realize he needs to mature but he should use the positive example that is around him right now. That example is Eli Manning. Eli Manning has never been the best Quarterback in the league. He has never been the most popular player in the league. He is the complete opposite of what we call a “Hollywood” player. Yet you look at his resume and it speaks volumes to just how much he has meant to this organization since he came to the league.
Eli Manning’s resume:
Career touchdown passes: 320(7th all-time)
Career passing yards: 48,214(8th all-time)
Career completions: 4,072(7th all-time)
Career Consecutive starts: 211(3rd all-time)
2 Super Bowl rings and 2 Super Bowl MVPs
Even with those impressive numbers that still isn’t where Eli has made his biggest impact. His biggest impact has been felt off the field. Eli is a guy that is the epitome of professionalism. He never complains, never throws anybody under the bus and has come through for the Giants when they need him the most. Eli has also been a lightning rod for media criticism since coming to the league, yet has handled it in the perfect way. Odell not so much.
Now I’m not calling for Odell to be like Eli. I’m not telling him that he can’t be “Hollywood”. I’m not saying he can’t be flashy on and off the field. All I’m saying is that it is time for him to be a leader and it is time for to put football before everything else. The great ones make plays when it matters most. The great ones talk smack and then back it up. Odell is going to be great no matter what. He has too much talent to not be. The question is what is more important to him his brand or winning? The Giants patience is running thin. His lack of production in big moments is leading to people questioning whether he is worth the headache or not. For the Giants to win another Super Bowl they need to rebuild the culture that they once had. One that displays a quiet confidence and one that performs when everything is on the line. If Odell can’t be a part of that then I have no issue with him not being on this team.