FLORHAM PARK N.J. — Brandon Marshall sees a lot of himself — especially his younger self — in Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Competitive. Fiery. Temperamental. Intense.
And yes, sometimes over the top with his emotions, like the way Beckham acted in Sunday’s 29-27 loss to Washington. The third-year receiver’s histrionics on the sidelines in the second half earned an admonition from coach Ben McAdoo, who said Beckham needs to do a better job controlling himself.
“There’s definitely things that I do to try and stay calm, because I’m just like him,” the Jets’ 32-year-old receiver told Newsday after practice on Wednesday. “The world sees a guy [in Beckham] who may be a distraction or has a bad attitude. But deep down, this is a guy who loves football. He competes at the highest level, and he’d do anything for his team to win.”
But Marshall speaks from experience when he tells you that Beckham needs to figure out a way to deal with the inevitable obstacles that come his way — whether it be a dropped pass, being passed over by Eli Manning for a different receiver or dealing with a trash-talking cornerback like Josh Norman.
Marshall remembered back to his early years in Denver when he would often get so frustrated if things weren’t going his way as early as the first quarter and let it affect him for the rest of the game. It wasn’t until he crossed paths with backup quarterback Chris Simms in 2009 — four years into Marshall’s career — that he got some advice he uses to this day. Especially during what admittedly has been a frustrating first three games, in which Marshall — like Beckham — has yet to score a touchdown.
“I’d freak out if I didn’t get the ball in the first quarter, and sometimes I still do,” he said. “There were games when [Simms] just said, ‘Man, you need to relax,’ and then I’d finish with 100 yards and two touchdowns. [Simms] was like, ‘See?’ That helped me realize you have to stay focused in the game.”
Marshall plans on reaching out to Beckham in the next day or two. Two pieces of advice he’ll offer:
1. “I would say he should probably sit down with Chris Simms and let him have that same conversation he had with me, because it really helped me out,” Marshall said. “It takes a plan.”
2. Go on the web and download an app that Marshall swears by.
“There’s an app I use called ‘Lucid,’ “ Marshall said. “It’s mental fitness training. What do you do in situations? What do you do when adversity hits? What do you do when you have success? In the end, we always finish with meditation and come into the present.”
Marshall said Beckham simply has to change his approach to the game but knows it won’t be easy.
“That’s the only way he’ll be able to make it, because that [emotional edge] happens naturally in him,” Marshall said. “That’s what he knows. That’s how he grew up playing football. Not playing that way is really, really awkward and uncomfortable for guys like that, so you have to have something that can kind of get you through the game and help you manage that. You have to balance it out. I would say to him, ‘Bro, try this app out.’”
Marshall took out his mobile phone and scrolled down the list of menu options.
“The discomfort zone” . . . “play present” . . . “know yourself” . . . “the greatness inside you.”
“You sit there and listen to each one,” Marshall said. “Imagine yourself not doing well. OK, how are you going to respond to that? We call it ‘next play. Get to the next play. Stay focused. Stay present.’ ”
Marshall is having to heed his own advice, because he isn’t off to the start he imagined. After three games, he has 12 catches for 160 yards and no touchdowns after coming off a season in which he finished with 109 catches for 1,502 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns.
And that preseason wager he made with Steelers All Pro receiver Antonio Brown isn’t looking very good Marshall said he’d give up a Porsche if he didn’t finish the season with more receiving yards than Brown. If Marshall gains more yards, then he’d take a Rolls-Royce from Brown, who has 305 receiving yards.
“It’s a long year,” Marshall said. “You just gotta relax.”
That goes for Beckham, too.
As for his own team, which is 1-2 after Sunday’s 24-3 loss to the Chiefs, Marshall isn’t pushing the panic button. And he’s heartened by the team’s attitude heading into Sunday’s home game against the Seahawks.
“I will say this. That’s a good feeling when guys are angry and upset,” Marshall said of the team’s reaction to Sunday’s loss in Kansas City. “It means they care. I’ve been on so many teams where you walk in the locker room after a loss and guys are just, ‘OK, on to the next thing.’ Or they go home or go out to eat or whatever.
“It [stinks] losing, but it feels good to see the reactions from coaches and players who are angry,” he said. “You’re looking at each other, holding each other accountable and saying, ‘What’s the problem? We need to fix it.’ That’s what I love about this locker room.”
How to fix it?
“Just got to play better,” he said. “It’s obvious we have to be more efficient in the red zone. Our defense is playing really well. But we have to be more consistent on our end and it starts with guys like [Ryan Fitzpatrick] and myself. I have to play better. I haven’t scored a touchdown this year. I haven’t done a great job of getting open. I just got to make more plays. I’ve got to find a way to make more plays and make the tough plays and I think that things will open up a little more.”
Marshall said he needs to fight through the double-teams that invariably come his way.
“That’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s a sign of respect. When they’re not doubling you or paying attention to you, probably your days are over or close to being over. Good players find a way to get it done, no matter what they’re throwing at you. Obviously, we have to be creative and you have to study film and see what’s going wrong. It’s not going to be easy, but I feel like I can make those plays when it’s tough and I haven’t done that yet. I have to do that for my teammates.”
Marshall said the knee problem he suffered in a Week 2 win over the Bills is somewhat better. “I’m OK,” he said.
Better than last week?
“A little better, yes. Thanks for asking,” he told a reporter. “You got me on [a] fantasy [football team?]
Marshall then recalled a story from last season, when he met a fan while walking in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood with his family.
“He was asking me something, and I was with my family and rushing him and I was like, ‘I can’t have this conversation with you now,’” Marshall said. “[The fan] said, ‘It doesn’t matter. You [stink]. You killed my fantasy league, and I’m a Giants’ fan anyway.’ Man, New York is rough.”
He hopes the numbers get better in a hurry. Both for he and his team.