Odell Beckham Jr. is starting to act like a prima donna who seems to believe that defensive players are supposed to sit back like fans and watch him attempt acrobatic catches without doing the job they’re hired to do. Namely, knock players like him into next week with good, clean hits.
That was the biggest takeaway from Saturday’s 22-12 preseason victory over the Jaguars. Sure, Eli Manning looked pretty dreadful (4 of 14 for 46 yards); new linebacker J.T. Thomas made a number of big plays and looks like a much-needed playmaker on an otherwise blasé defense; and Jon Beason twisted his knee to continue the Giants’ love affair with injuries. But the prevailing memory from the second preseason game will be of Beckham – no catches through two games – losing his cool.
Twice on the Giants first few series, Manning attempted to throw over a cornerback along the sideline to Beckham. Both times the pass fell incomplete and both times Beckham went after Jaguars safety Sergio Brown – and for no good reason.
On the first attempt, Brown was right in the play and helped to break it up. He didn’t go low, throw an elbow or toss confetti in Beckham’s face. He made a good, clean play, but Beckham still burst up and went after him.
In the next instance, Manning overthrew Beckham by a healthy margin and Brown was a good five yards from Beckham when the ball hit the ground. Still, Beckham seemed to be thinking that Brown was angling to tackle him – ya know, do his job – and so Beckham ran right at Brown and shoved him for having the audacity to even think of hitting him.
Beckham obviously feels like he has a target on his back, what with last year’s exploits – The Catch, the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, the Madden cover, his regular need to show off in practice by catching balls with one hand (we get it, dude, you have big mitts) – but he’s not the first guy to burst on the scene making breathtaking plays and he won’t be the last.
Attention is a double-edged sword, and so far he’s only proven he can handle the soft, cuddly-edged side.
Beckham has openly admitted that he needs to control his emotions, and that he’s too easily egged on by defenders. It’s one thing to stand up for yourself when someone takes a cheap shot. It’s something else to have a hissy fit because someone breathes on you.
Beckham is an otherworldly talent and a joy to watch. But if thinks defenses are going to just sit back and let him entertain the fans, he’s probably wrong.
Witnessing Beckham's antics against the Jaguars brought to mind the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Just hear me out. For years, I've marveled at how David Ortiz has regularly killed the Yankees, both in the regular season and the postseason. And yet no matter how many times Ortiz has come through in the clutch, the Yankees have never deployed the oldest pitching trick in the book -- making the batter move his feet.
Now, I'm not saying they should throw at Ortiz's head. But you have to be willing to dust him on occasion, and you have to make him know that you're willing to dust him. When Ortiz is in the batter's box against the Yankees, he's so comfortable he's practically sitting in a rocking chair.
Replace the rocking chair with pins and needles and you'll decrease your chances of being owned. And I say that as a Red Sox fan.
In Beckham's case, it doesn't portend good things if he's rattled when a safety on the Jaguars casts a shadow in his personal airspace. How's he going to react when he gets jacked for real on a crossing route against the Eagles?
Next up for Beckham and the Giants: the Jets and Darrelle Revis. Yeah, not exactly the matchup you’d like if you’re looking to get off the schneide. Still, no time like the present to stop acting like a prima donna and just be a hard-nosed playmaker.