Odell Beckham Jr. on Friday invoked Kevin Garnett’s memorable but decade-old scream after leading the Celtics to the NBA title in 2008. He wouldn’t mimic it — “my voice would crack and I don’t want to embarrass myself,” he said — but he believes it. Even when it comes to these floundering, rebuilding, unable to score, 1-7 Giants.
Anything, Beckham insists, is possible.
Which is why, at a time of year when many members of last-place teams are playing for pride or contracts or whatever other reason they can scrounge up to force themselves to step on the field, Beckham still is looking to salvage the season. Asked what he wants to accomplish in the last eight games of 2018, he said: “Win eight games.”
“Go 9-7 and get in the playoffs,” he said. “The Giants have been there before, 9-7 and in the playoffs, and I think they did pretty good. So that’s the goal. It’s not an easy task, but that’s the goal. I want to win every game and do anything I can to help that.”
It’s a steep challenge for any team to win eight in a row. The Giants have shown little indication that they can win even one game, so to expect them to do that eight times in a row is almost absurd. But Beckham, bless his heart, said he is holding out hope.
How can the Giants pull off such an epic turnaround?
“Doing what we didn’t do in the first half,” Beckham said. “Doing the opposite of what we didn’t do in the first half. Scoring points in the red zone. Completing drives. All the little things that have held us back . . . It’s easy to sit up here and say ‘We want to win eight games,’ but knowing that’s very tough to do, we just have to pull it all together now.”
That lack of scoring has sunk the Giants’ season so far. They are 31st in the NFL in red-zone efficiency (40 percent) and trending downward (25 percent in their last three games). That was the primary focus of the changes the Giants came up with during the bye week, and they figure to tweak their play selections and personnel deployments when they get inside the opposing 20 from here on out.
There is another way to score, though. The Giants have seen an uptick in explosive plays the last three games, with seven passes of at least 25 yards and three runs of at least 15 yards. Only one of those 10 plays reached the end zone, though.
Beckham thinks it’s time to eliminate the middle man — or the middle phase — and skip right over the red zone.
“I think that any chance I get — all of us, Saquon [Barkley], [Sterling] Shepard, Evan [Engram] — you get a chance to take something to the house, it’s time to go,” he said. “There is no more holding back, playing it safe or waiting for the next play because you don’t know if you are going to have a next play. That’s just the mentality we have to take. Any chance I get now and I catch one of these slants, there’s no motion wasted. It’s just gotta be somebody’s gotta come catch me. You trust your training, trust your speed, somebody’s gotta come catch me.”
Beckham said he feels as if he is in the best shape of his life and noted that he usually increases his productivity in the second half of the season. He’s on pace for 1,570 receiving yards this season, which would break the franchise record set by Victor Cruz (1,536 in 2011).
The Giants won the Super Bowl that season. Beckham’s potential record-breaking year could come in a season in which the Giants finish as the worst team in the NFL.
Beckham understands that when he talks about these Giants making the playoffs, he comes off as either blind or insane.
“I know we’re not in a very good situation, but you try to make the most out of it,” he said. And there is that Kevin Garnett howl that keeps echoing around in his head.
“It’s not impossible to win eight games. It wasn’t impossible to lose seven [in the first half], so anything can happen . . . Whatever happens will happen, but I know my mentality won’t be to quit. I’m going to be out there trying to go hard every play every chance that I get. That’s just always how I’m gonna be.”
Notes & quotes: Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said he liked the production he got from KR/PR Quadree Henderson before Henderson was waived this week and then re-signed to the practice squad. Signs continue to point to the Giants promoting him back to the active 53-man roster before Monday’s game. “I look forward to getting him back,” McGaughey said after including Henderson on a list of possible returners against the 49ers.