Odell Beckham Jr. has not been a distraction the past few weeks. He has been a blessing.
Yes, I understand that he lost a fight with a kicking net and I know he was crying at the end of Washington's loss at MetLife Stadium in Week 3. I know he was not on his best behavior last Monday night in Minnesota and took a bad penalty and was largely ineffective as he finished the game with just three receptions.
Even with that being said, he has not been the Giants' biggest problem and what has caused them to lose two straight games: the lack of pass rush or consistent ground game. The play calling by the first year head coach Ben McAdoo has been an issue, with the inability to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Let’s not forget the penalties, lack of composure and the turnovers. Put that all together and what you have is a Giants team that is not getting better as we move along in the season, but you can make the argument that they have actually regressed.
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But instead of talking about the real issues with this Giants team, we get caught up with the histrionics of Odell Beckham Jr. Some have compared Beckham to Terrell Owens. Beckham is not Owens and I don’t think he will ever be as divisive as Owens. From coast to coast, all the talk has been about Beckham. I get it. He is a star and certainly he has acted immaturely on the sidelines and his behavior last year in the Panthers game against Josh Norman was deplorable.
But let’s get something straight. Odell Beckham Jr. makes the Giants a better football team. He is at worst the second best wide receiver in the National Football League. He needs to start playing like it. That is the biggest issue with the first four weeks of the NFL season is that Beckham has not played at his best. He has been taken out of games because of his inability to control his emotions and he has taken the bait from opposing players.
It is true that the Giants missed their chance to discipline him a year ago during the Panthers game. Then head coach Tom Coughlin kept him in the game because he was trying to win the game and put together a season to remain as Giants head coach. Neither one of those things happened. The Giants lost and Coughlin stepped down as head coach after the season.
I love reading and hearing this week that Bill Parcells would have handled Beckham a lot differently. Let’s not forget Parcells coached Lawrence Taylor with the Giants and Keyshawn Johnson with the Jets. Two stars who played with a lot of emotion and both were given a lot of leeway because they both helped Parcells win football games.
I love that argument that Beckham is selfish. What great wide receiver is not selfish? Who does not want the football? It is the ultimate alpha male sport where you are not only judged every week but your team is judged, weighed and measured every game.
Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is not helping the situation when he suggests that opponents are not "man enough" to go up against straight up. Please, that is one of the most idiotic things I have heard in quite some time. Maybe head coach Ben McAdoo should refrain from letting his coaches speak to the media. The Giants need to support Beckham at this stage of his career, that much is true. But to suggest that teams should not look for an edge in their matchup against Beckham makes no sense. Every team would do it. It has nothing to do with not being man enough or brave enough. It’s smart football, plain and simple.
It is true that Beckham need to get his emotions in check and he can’t continue to act out on the sidelines. We need to remember that he is just 23 years old and he is an emotional and sensitive guy. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. That is a good and bad thing. We don’t all mature at the same age or the same stage in life. We need to cut him a break. Now, he can’t be playing the victim, which he tried to do last week. He needs to rise above it all. Nobody wants to hear that you are not having "fun" anymore. Nobody wants to hear that the league is out to get you. You are too talented to play the victim and in a lot of ways Giants quarterback Eli Manning was correct, Beckham has brought a lot of this upon himself.
Coming out of training camp, the Giants wanted everyone to know that this was a more mature Odell Beckham Jr. in 2016. He had learned from the Panthers game debacle and had matured as an individual and a football player.
That has not been the case at all, but Beckham is not the biggest reason why the Giants are an average football team right now. Right now, the best thing Beckham can do for himself is to let his play do the talking and dominate. If he does that and the Giants win, everything else goes away. Even if the Giants lose, but he does everything he can to help them win and plays at the level that we all know he is capable of, it all goes away. All the criticism, all the chatter, all the analysis, it will all go away if he just stops the outbursts and does what he loves to do, play football.
His behavior has taken the focus away from the real issues facing the Giants that need to be cleaned up pretty quickly. So in essence, he has been a distraction and for the Giants that has been a good thing. Beckham’s behavior is quicker fix, because all he needs to do is just play the game and control himself. Now, fixing what ails the Giants team is a tougher solution. But why focus on that when we can all break down temper tantrums. That is why Beckham has been the Giants' best friend.