Forget boats in Miami and shirtless pregames. What’ll ultimately determine Odell Beckham Jr.’s greatness will be the great, clutch play.
Forget about boats in Miami. Don’t concern yourself with shirtless wide receivers wearing Timbs.
The act, itself, of flying down to Miami for a night of chill on a well-deserved off-day should never represent the narrative among level-headed fans (despite the worrisome fact the name of Justin Bieber has been thrown into the conversation).
If Joe Namath can party all night and beat the Oakland Raiders in the ’68 AFL Championship Game, we can provide OBJ with a little slack for an off day venture.
What’s concerning about the Giants most recognizable player is that he rarely makes the great catch.
Two seasons ago, when rookie Beckham seemingly leaped off our TV sets and came down with the most sensational catch of all-time on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys, he instantly gained fame. He created a monster — a social media, brand-making monster that would bring one-handed pregame rituals and funky designed cleats along with it.
Kids on playgrounds and on high school football fields would start intentionally using one hand to catch the football.
The catch was that influential — perhaps the most influential of our time.
Time and again, Beckham would continue his amazing catch insanity. From a diving catch near the flag in D.C. a season ago, to a one-handed job near the goalline last week, to even amazing us with his crafty angled bursts of speed on West Coast type slants that remind us of Jerry Rice, Beckham’s thrill meter has remained at an all-time high while shattering regular season records at the position.
These have all been regular season, less than noteworthy hauls.
Some would argue OBJ has, indeed, come up with big snags already.
How about his catch against Josh Norman a season ago when his Giants were hosting an undefeated Carolina Panthers team? He beat Norman — the same man for which he entered the imaginary ring with — and tied the contest in the back of the endzone late in the game.
Unfortunately, his team would go on to lose. Also, unfortunately, that game did more harm for his legacy than anybody could’ve imagined. Beckham even stepped over Norman after making big catch, something that could have cost his team 15-yards on the kickoff. He also dropped a perfectly placed bomb early in the same game.
Forget one game or one emotional moment, though. As talented as he is, never has a great receiver dropped as many surefire passes when it’s mattered most.
The trend continued in Green Bay during Beckham’s first time on the big stage. During a campaign that saw Eli Manning come under incredible scrutiny, it was the Giants weapons who let the team down.
Shockingly, the offensive line held up early on. Manning was afforded plenty of time and was carving up a Dom Capers defense that was playing a tad too aggressively. There were open receivers and tight spirals aplenty.
OBJ and Sterling Shepard simply dropped the ball.
During those first two critical drives in the midst of the biggest game of their careers, the young wideouts dropped two passes apiece. Shepard’s drops were bad, as one came in the endzone and the other tipped up for grabs (harmlessly and luckily falling incomplete).
Beckham’s were worse.
The most talented player on the roster first dropped a 10-yard hook on 3rd-down that would’ve kept the chains moving.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 8, 2017
He later dropped one in the endzone that could have provided the Giants with a firm and comfortable lead — one that he would normally make 10-out-of-10 times in practice.
Rarely is the kid tagged with a dropped pass. In 2014, on 130 targets he was credited with just two drops. In 2015, on 158 targets, he dropped five passes. This season, on 169 targets, he was tagged just six times.
Why, then, does it seem that his drops come at the biggest of moments? And worse yet, they are of the easy variety.
In the Giants 38-13 loss to Aaron Rodgers in the Packers, he was dinged for three drops. The two early ones we already discussed. Each was huge. The last one came on a corner route in which Manning overthrew a tad. Despite Troy Aikman calling it a “perfect pass” and not getting on Beckham for running through the ball, it was a toughie.
Having said that, these are the playoffs. This is January, the time when legends are born and playmakers make plays.
It’s the time that separates the superstars from the posers.
There’s no question that Beckham is one of the most talented receivers to ever walk this Earth. His unique blend of agility, speed, and explosiveness creates one serious monster on the football field.
If he doesn’t start making the great catch, however, his spectacular ones will soon be shrugged away.
I’ll take the two-handed clutch catch in a playoff game or with two-minutes to go in the fourth quarter over the one-hander that gets ESPN in a frenzy every day of the week.
Does Odell Beckham Jr. feel the same way? This is the question Giants fans need to concern themselves with.
It has very little to do with boats in Miami or Justin Bieber. Rather, complete focus, eliminating the nonsense (social media) and getting down to the nitty-gritty of what makes a truly great clutch time performer is where the issue lies.
In the first quarter on Sunday, Beckham had his chance to make the great catch. He didn’t come through.
There’s much work to do for OBJ, and it starts this offseason.