Giants’ legend Harry Carson recently compared the impact of Odell Beckham Jr. to that of a young Lawrence Taylor, and while that seems like hyperbole, there may be some validity to the Hall of Famer’s boast.
Taylor led the Giants to the playoffs during his rookie campaign – a season in which he snagged the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award. And while not even Beckham’s record-setting campaign can push the 5-9 Giants into the postseason, he’s done just about everything possible this year to keep the team respectable – and almost as important to Big Blue backers, the wideout has given the faithful hope for the future.
“I’m not going to go there,” Coughlin said when asked if Beckham was the best rookie he’s ever had. “He certainly has made a tremendous mark, [and] has the ability to go the distance anytime he gets the ball.”
That’s about as much public praise as Coughlin will allow, especially since the first rookie he ever had as the Giants’ head coach was quarterback Eli Manning.
When further prodded about the rookie, and informed that he has been talking often about his stellar wideout, Coughlin was quick to shut down any further possibilities of verbal bouquets.
“I’ve been asked the questions. I haven't volunteered a lot,” Coughlin noted.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that Coughlin doesn’t want to single out the rookie, especially when there have been others who have contributed to the team’s two-game winning streak. But of all the players who have ascended in recent weeks, Beckham may be the one to have directly saved the head coach’s job.
Beckham has been about the only bright spot during this dismal season – and that’s after he missed the first month of the season with an injured hamstring. Since being activated, he’s posted numbers that no other rookie wideout ever has.His 12-catch, 143-yard, three-touchdown afternoon against the Washington Redskins on Sunday was a clinic.
Coughlin may not want to fawn, but Beckham has no shortage of teammates who’ll address the season he’s had, as the rookie recalled what veteran safety Antrel Rolle told him during training camp that has stuck with the receiver since.
“There are a lot of guys on the team that, even though I missed those four games, had my back from the get-go,” said Beckham. “Antrel came up to me from the minute I got back out on the field and said ‘you still owe me 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.’ … That [support] is always in the back of your mind when you’re playing.”
No one has been supporting an offense as much as Beckham has in recent weeks. His nine touchdowns are already the highest total by a Giants’ rookie since Bill Swiacki set the record with 10 in 1948.
Beckham knows about the records and said he set lofty goals prior to the season, even though he knew the hamstring would keep him out for a while, so what he’s doing now is only what he’s been envisioning for months.
“I remember Antrel saying he wanted 10 [touchdowns] and 1,000 [receiving yards] for me," Beckham said, but for me, I had already set the expectations as high as possible. I hate settling for anything less [and] I wouldn’t expect anything less for myself. … That’s why I really focus on each and every play.”
There are only two Rookie of the Year honorees in the Giants’ long-standing history: Taylor in 1981 and offensive lineman John Hicks in 1974. And while Beckham said it’d be great to be the third, he’s already focusing on bigger and better things for the team as a whole for next season.
“Like I said earlier this year, we have the potential to be one of the best, if not the best offense in this league,” Beckham noted. “There’s no reason for us not to think that. Everybody on this team should think that. That’s just how it is. There’s a lot to look forward to going into next year.”
And if Beckham continues to help the offense ascend, Coughlin may actually be around to enjoy it next year -- and he’ll have the electric wideout as one of the main reasons to thank for his employment.
Big Blue notes:
- Regarding Coughlin’s future, the coach said no one in management has yet to talk to him about next season: “I’m sure that will be dealt with at the right time,” Coughlin said, adding he’s only focused on the remainder of this season. “No, it [job security] doesn’t cross my mind. We’ve got two games to go and we want to be the best we can be in these next two games.”
- There was no update on the injury status of running backRashadJennings’s ankle, noted Coughlin.
- Defensive tackleJohnathanHankinsis second on Giants with seven sacks. That’s the most by a Giants interior lineman since Keith Hamilton had 10 in 2000.
- Linebacker DevonKennardplayed 49 of 70 defensive snaps yesterday, and defensive coordinator PerryFewelleven admitted thatKennard’ssnap-count should rise during the final two games.
- Defensive end Kerry Wynn has “taken full advantage of his opportunity,” said Coughlin, who added he’d like to see more of the burgeoning player. “He really did help a tremendous amount yesterday.”
- The defensive end rotation against Washington featured 41 snaps by Wynn and 39 byDamontreMoore. Jason Pierre-Paul had 68.