The Giants got what they wanted out of Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday when he was on the field. He caught seven passes for 121 yards and stayed away from any altercations with nemesis Josh Norman.
Off the field, though, was a different story.
Beckham’s tantrums on the sideline caught the attention of veteran players and coach Ben McAdoo, who said the star receiver needs to make himself “less of a distraction” in the bench area.
Beckham often paces the sideline when not on the field, roaring like a caged lion, emoting his passion and, ostensibly, trying to fire up himself and his teammates. Sometimes, though, that passion boils over and manifests itself in unproductive ways. Such was the case Sunday when Beckham came to the bench after the first of two Eli Manning interceptions in the fourth quarter and started slamming equipment. At one point, he hit the kicking net with his helmet, only to have the frame of the net whack him in the face.
Beckham had a mark under his right eye after the game, presumably from that interaction with the net. But it is the black eye that McAdoo fears he may be giving the organization that concerns the coach the most.
“I thought between the white lines, he controlled himself,” McAdoo said. “Emotionally on the sideline in between series, he needs to do a better job. That’s all of our responsibilities, mine included. He needs to control his emotions better and be less of a distraction to himself and his teammates.”
That outburst occurred as the Giants came off the field from a fruitless drive in which Beckham caught back-to-back passes for 43 yards, drew a holding penalty against Norman, and was wide open on a deep route that would have been an easy touchdown had Manning looked his way. But there were other times when Beckham seemed to fly off the handle, too. Less obvious ones.
McAdoo said he spoke to Beckham “on two different occasions” during the game about his behavior. So, too, did Manning, at least once. And he said he’d do it again.
“He’s got to learn that any little act that he does is going to get blown up,” Manning said Monday in his weekly radio appearance on WFAN. “He’s got to learn to keep it inside or just find a way to deal with it. Come talk to me, come see what’s on my mind or something. We’ll work on that so it does not become a distraction after the game and we’re talking about football and not the stuff that happens on the sideline.”
The more dangerous element, as McAdoo pointed out, is when it becomes an issue during the game.
“He’s got to learn that when it becomes so public it can be a distraction,” Manning said. “It can mess with the flow and the rhythm of what people are doing. We just have to keep the sideline, keep our teammates calm and collected so we can just go out there and play football.”
Channeling all of Beckham’s fury toward a productive end has been a challenge for the Giants since they drafted him. McAdoo said he has dealt with such players during previous coaching stops. The key, he said, is communication.
“Having a variety of different people and coaches, staff members they can communicate with,” he said, “it helps them direct their focus.”
The Giants tried that Sunday. At various times, Beckham was approached by Manning and receivers coach Adam Henry, who was Beckham’s position coach at LSU and was brought to the Giants partly to help direct Beckham’s focus. (The Fox broadcast of the game noted that Henry at one point grabbed Beckham to speak with him.) Also approaching Beckham was former Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead, who is one of the most respected members of the staff as a special assistant in the football development program.
“It’s our job to help him with that process and maturing,” McAdoo said of the 23-year-old receiver. “It takes a village.”
It also requires something else, he added.
“It takes time.”