Odell Beckham Jr. gave a stunningly honest interview with ESPN, ahead of the Giants’ 31-33 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 5. He didn’t hold anything back. Beckham openly discussed his frustration with the organization, the underwhelming offense, how he wants more opportunities to shine, and when he was asked about Eli Manning, he was speechless.
Speaking with Josina Anderson, Beckham laid out everything he has problems with inside the organization, the kind of information we normally get a taste of via leaks and postseason chatter, not a national interview in the middle of the season.
The Giants were 25th in the NFL in total yardage, 21st in passing, and 29th in scoring prior to this week’s game. Beckham was accounting for over a third of the team receiving yards by himself, which was true again this week when he had 131 receiving yards of the team’s 382 net yards through the air.
Beckham had one touchdown catch and threw a 57-yard touchdown on a trick play in the game. It was the first time since Week 17 of the 2015 season that the Giants scored more than 30 points in a single game.
So what did Beckham say in his interview?
He believes his career has stagnated because of the Giants.
“I don’t feel like I’m being given the opportunity to be the very best that I can, to bring that every single day — and that’s really all I want to do, to bring that every single day. Since I’ve been here I’ve put up numbers, records have been broken and all those good things, not to say mean nothing to me, but I know they could have been double, or triple whatever they are now. That’s the part that bothers me.”
Beckham was a first-round pick in 2014. That season, he became the first rookie with more than 75 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. In 2016, he became the fastest player to reach 200 receptions and 4,000 receiving yards.
But in his first five seasons, the team only made the playoffs once, in 2016, losing to the Packers in an NFC Wild Card game.
The money isn’t important to him.
Beckham agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract extension in April, with $65 million guaranteed. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy. The receiver reiterated that it isn’t about the money, but rather that he feels like he’s contributing to the best of his ability on a team that’s supporting him.
Beckham has lofty goals, saying he wants to catch two touchdowns a game and finish with over 100 yards every time he’s on the field.
“If I don’t get to help attribute to a team’s win, or do anything like that, I’m not going to be OK with it — money or no money.”
The Eli Manning question
The biggest question that Beckham didn’t have an answer for was what the Giants should do about quarterback Eli Manning. Manning’s legacy has been cemented among the best quarterbacks in team history, but there are also doubts about how long he can keep the team afloat.
When asked about whether Manning is right for the Giants now Beckham had a short, non-committal answer.
“Like I said, I feel like he’s not going to get out the pocket. He’s not — we know Eli’s not running it. But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it’s been pretty safe and it’s been, you know, cool catching shallow and trying to take it to the house. But I’m, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody.”
Odell took a shot at the Giants offensive staff.
One of Beckham’s biggest frustrations is seeing defenses play exactly the same way against him for the last five years, but never seeing the Giants’ offensive staff find ways to punish their predictability.
“I feel like in the past five years they found a way to run a Cover 2, keep everything in front, and that’s how they play me — and there’s no way to say “How do we beat this?” I feel like I’m being out-schemed, and I also don’t have a chance to like, do something. Oh, I gotta take a slant and go 60? Not to say it’s not fun, but I want those easy touchdowns too. I watch everybody across the league, all the top receivers get the ball the way they should, and if they don’t they say something about it.”
The Giants cleaned house last December, firing head coach Ben McAdoo after a 2-10 start. They hired Pat Shurmur as sort of a reset button, with the goal of retooling the team around Manning, as opposed to starting over with a fresh rebuild.
How did Shurmur respond to Beckham’s interview?
Initial reports said Shurmur was “livid” with his star wide receiver, forcing him to apologize to his teammates behind closed doors. Whatever feelings Shurmur had about it all before the game, he apparently kept them under wraps in front of the cameras.
After the game, he still wasn’t in any mood to talk about it, but he wasn’t hiding his feelings either.
Visibly upset, Shurmur addressed the issue on everyone’s mind in his postgame press conference Sunday.
“Alright, listen, I’m gonna answer all the drama questions right now. I’m gonna go back to what I said, alright? I addressed it with Odell. I addressed it with our team,” Shurmur said, voice beginning to rise again. “I publicly declared that I didn’t agree with his comments ands I asked anyone who was interested if they wanted clarification go to Odell because he’s a big man.
“I’m not gonna give the public a pound of flesh on this, alright? That would make me small, not strong. These are the kind of things, in my opinion, when you have the locker room that we have, that will help galvanize them. ‘Cause the locker room took care of it. That’s all I’m saying on it. Finito. Done!
“Let’s talk football, not drama.”
It was later reported the Beckham had to pay for his remarks — literally:
Just reported on Thursday Night Football on @NFLonFOX that the Giants fined Odell Beckham Jr for his comments last week.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) October 11, 2018
How did Beckham’s teammates respond?
They didn’t have much to say. It was almost like there was a concerted effort to respond appropriately and not fan the flames with errant comments that could give the story even more oxygen than it’s already going to get.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Eli Manning said after the game. “Odell and I have a great relationship. Our mindset will be everybody stay focused on beating Philadelphia.”
The most telling remark came from Damon Harrison. “I don’t really want to comment on that. It was handled in house.”
What remains to be seen is whether or not it stays in-house.
Did Beckham apologize?
A report from Jay Glazer said that Shurmur had Beckham apologize to the team before the game. However, both Shurmur and Beckham disputed that. The receiver characterized his comments to the team differently.
“I kind of spoke to the team, just to relay the message that sometimes stuff comes off the wrong way. Words can be portrayed in any kind of light.”
He made it clear he didn’t feel like he had anything to apologize for. If anything, to Beckham, the comments might have had a silver lining.
“I don’t regret anything that I said.”
After the game, Beckham was not backing down, portraying his comments as, ultimately, having a positive effect on the Giants, despite the loss.
“If it took that for us to come together as a team, like we did today, I can take that every single time.
“If it took that to get us going, I’m trying to be a leader. This is a position that I’ve never been in. I’m trying to grow. I’m learning on the fly. But, I’m proud of where we went today. We gave it our all. We came [back] against adversity, and calls here and there. We can never rely on the refs to win the game, but there were calls here or there that were questionable, and we kept fighting. We kept fighting. That’s all I could ask for.”
What Beckham had to say wasn’t totally off base, and the Giants’ offense did have a much better game this week, despite a rocky start to it. It was still a loss, a close one, which leaves the door open for more friction around a story that’s probably not going away any time soon.