Of the many tasks Ben McAdoo will be charged with handling during the next few years as head coach of the Giants, perhaps the most important will be finding a way to get more out of the most talented player the team has had in generations while avoiding the kinds of meltdowns that punctuated his sophomore season.
We speak, of course, of Odell Beckham Jr., the Pro Bowl wide receiver prone to one-handed catches as well as head-hunting hits, as demonstrated against the Panthers during an ugly back-and-forth with cornerback Josh Norman in Week 15 less than a month ago.
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“I should have been better, and I take full responsibility for that,” McAdoo said of the incident, which led to Beckham’s one-game suspension and was a scar on the franchise. “Odell feels as bad as anybody about it, and it’s my job to pull him out of that when we go down that road.”
John Mara, who was critical of Beckham but also of the way Tom Coughlin handled the situation, said he spoke to McAdoo about it during the interview process.
“He was upset at the way that it transpired,” Mara said of McAdoo. “He put a lot of blame on himself and he realizes that he should have stepped in and done something . . . When you’re an offensive coordinator and you got that play sheet in front of you, you’re not always focused specifically on what’s going on in situations like that. He’ll be the head coach now. Depending on who he ends up with as his offensive coordinator, it’s possible somebody else will be calling the plays. I think he understands that you can’t let a situation like that linger.”
Mara said he was “disturbed” by Beckham’s display in that Panthers game.
“Look what happened at the end of the Steelers-Bengals game,” he said. “I just don’t want our players to conduct themselves like that.”
Nor does he want his new head coach to tolerate it. That message was received.
“I could have been better for the team and for Odell,” McAdoo said. “I don’t know if it was a good lesson, but a lesson.”