After the first game of the season, Pat Shurmur was asked if throwing 15 passes in the direction of Odell Beckham Jr. was too many.
“I think we might be here someday when he doesn’t get that many and you’re saying, ‘Why don’t you throw it to him 15 times?’ ” Shurmur chuckled last Monday.
That day came pretty quickly.
Beckham had nine passes come his way against the Cowboys and caught just four in the 20-13 loss on Sunday night. For most of the game he was a complete non-factor. During a span of over 32 minutes of play from midway through the second quarter to 4:26 remaining in the game he had one opportunity to catch a pass. It was incomplete.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Shurmur said on Thursday. “Sometimes they come in bunches. Sometimes bigger bunches than others. But we’re all aware of the fact that it’s important that he touches the ball early and often.”
As the Giants get ready to face the Texans in a game that will likely be a pivotal moment in their season – one that will either resuscitate at 1-2 or doom them at 0-3 – they understand they need to incorporate Beckham more into the offense to give themselves the best chance of winning.
That, after all, is why they paid him all that money in his contract extension this offseason.
“We want to obviously get him involved,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said on Thursday. “He’s such a productive player for us, get him involved early.”
He added that Beckham and Eli Manning need to “continue to utilize not just their talents but their awareness and their intelligence to be able to get him the football, whether it’s short passes, inside passes, outside passes, all that good stuff.”
Beckham’s reaction to that?
“I don’t mind,” he said with a big smile.
He wasn’t smiling on Sunday when he played such an uncharacteristically miniscule role in the offense. His four catches for 51 yards were his second-lowest production in a game in almost two years. The only other time in that span in which he was so unproductive was when he came back from a sprained ankle in Week 2 last season and had four catches for 36 yards against the Lions.
He may not have been happy about it, but neither did he flip out over it.
“It’s tough,” he said. “That’s the part where I’ve grown the most is being able to stay in it and know that it’s right there, it’s always one play away.”
Beckham said he wanted to be mentally tested in that way, to take his newfound maturity and perspective out for a spin.
“It’s funny because I’d been asking for it and asking for it and then I got it,” he said. “It was a tough test. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win but you always find small wins, small battles that you can take from it and use it going forward.”
Ideally, the Giants will want to get Beckham involved early in this game, as Shurmur and Shula said. The benefit to that goes beyond the immediacy of the plays and can affect opportunities later in the day as well.
“If you can make one or two big plays early, your confidence is up and I know that I’m ready for whenever it comes to me again,” Beckham said. “If you don’t hit it, you can’t find a rhythm, it’s hard. It’d be like a three-point shooter getting in a game and not getting to get a shot off. It’s hard to find a rhythm.
"It’s just about finding a rhythm.”