Not much was made of Odell Beckham Jr.’s moment of frustration in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Bears. In fact, nothing was made of it at all. No replays. No Twitter buzz. No hot takes on the talk shows.
But there was something that happened, enough to get wide receivers coach Adam Henry to speak for several minutes to Beckham, who slammed his helmet on the sideline after being tackled short of a first down on third-and-4 from the Giants’ 37.
Beckham’s snippy demeanor in a postgame interview only underscored my hunch he was still seething, even though the Giants had won, 22-16, to improve to 7-3 and extend their winning streak to five.
Was he frustrated about his role in the offense after catching only five passes for 46 yards and no touchdowns?
He wouldn’t say. Not then, and not Wednesday, in his first comments since Sunday. Beckham was asked if the Giants’ inability to put away teams in the fourth quarter, a recurring theme in recent weeks, led to his frustration. He declined to answer.
Any concern from Ben McAdoo about Beckham’s state of mind, which was a hot topic earlier this season, when he had a series of blowups during games?
“I don’t know,” McAdoo said. “That’s a better question for Odell. There are frustrations. There are ups and downs and highs and lows in each and every ballgame.”
There’s a cliche that winning is the great deodorant, and that may be the case here. When you win, a lot of things are overlooked. When you lose, they get magnified. When Beckham hurled his helmet into the kicking net and had it carom and hit him in the face during a Week 3 loss to the Redskins, it became a big deal.
The Giants are riding their longest regular-season winning streak since 2010 and the defense has been terrific, but there are continuing problems for an offense that was supposed to be their biggest strength. They’re averaging just 20.4 points a game, and Beckham’s numbers, while still highly respectable, aren’t quite what he’s used to. He’s seventh in the league with 819 receiving yards, and his six touchdown receptions are tied for fourth. His 59 catches are ninth.
While Beckham won’t discuss any personal frustrations he might have, he admits the offense isn’t happy with its production.
“It’s unfortunate to be on the offense and have that feeling like the defense is saving us every game, like they are,” he said. “It’s about time for us to put one away. They’re doing a phenomenal job at closing out games. I just think it’s time for the offense to take steps and close out a game for them. We haven’t played to our full potential, and we’re still coming away with wins. We just need to step it up and put games away when they need to be put away.”
The offense was fortunate that the defense bailed it out at the end of Sunday’s game. But it was at least curious that Beckham, who often says winning is the most important thing to him, seemed testy. He was asked why he didn’t think he had his usual number of catches.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You have to ask someone else.”
Beckham is fiercely competitive and driven to win, but given his struggles with controlling his temper, there is some concern here about how he’s handling things. We’ve seen this kind of behavior with high-profile receivers over the years — call it the Keyshawn Johnson “Throw me the damn ball” syndrome. Ever since Beckham’s infamous run-in last December with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, which led to a one-game suspension after Beckham launched himself at Norman helmet first, his me-first demeanor has been an issue.
Fitting, too, that this should be a topic of discussion on the two-year anniversary of the catch that launched Beckham into the national consciousness. On Nov. 23, 2014, he made an amazing one-handed touchdown grab against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium, arguably the greatest catch in NFL history.
“I really just think about how it changed my life forever,” Beckham said. “In a sense, it kind of put a shadow over everything else, but it is a moment that happened, and it was a good moment for me. I think about it in retrospect, but not really on a day-to-day basis.”
It was a spectacular moment and a signature play for Beckham, who has some of the most incredible talent of any receiver we’ve ever known. It remains to be seen whether his temper will be the bigger topic of conversation moving forward.