Odell Beckham Jr. said the Giants have a “one-play-away offense.”
Meaning that wherever they are on the field, wherever they are in the game, they can reach the end zone. The best illustration of that kind of explosiveness was Saquon Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run last Sunday against the Jaguars. On that play, the rookie running back brought the Giants from zero to six in 12 seconds.
“Once we get going, and really get going, I really don’t see — I don’t want to say ‘impossible’ — but it will be very hard to stop this offense,” Beckham said. “Once it gets moving, it’s going to be tough.”
The problem is that they may be one play away from scoring, but they’ve been largely unable to connect on that play. Other than Barkley’s run, the Giants didn’t set foot in the end zone in their 20-15 loss. Instead, they had to settle for a bunch of almosts.
That’s a category the Giants seem to have led the league in for the past few seasons. They have not scored as many as 30 points in a game since the 2015 regular-season finale.
It’s time for them to stop talking about those game-changing plays and start hitting them.
They certainly had opportunities with Beckham. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Beckham averaged 4.6 yards of separation on his routes against the Jaguars. That was tops among the 12 players who had the ball thrown their way 10 or more times in Week 1. It’s an amazingly large window for a quarterback to hit and it should have resulted in many more big gains.
Instead, Beckham’s 11 catches resulted in 111 yards but no game-changing plays. Certainly no touchdowns. The four times he was open for potential scoring plays, he was fouled twice by the Jaguars and two of Eli Manning’s passes fell incomplete.
“We just had a couple opportunities where if we hit [Beckham], we can get points on the board and then it might be a totally different ballgame,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula said of Manning’s passes. “I think he’s like everybody else, just working on being more consistent. There’s a lot of good things there that we want to continue to build on and then there’s some other things we think we can get better at.”
Said Manning: “I think it’s just everybody understanding their assignments just a little bit crisper, just execution. Just make sure everybody knows exactly what’s going on. You just never know when that one mistake or little route here or assignment there can make a difference in a game. Just doing every little thing right. That’s on everybody, starting with me and the things I can do better.”
Beckham shrugged it off.
“It’s just first-game stuff,” he said. “Everybody getting on the same page and just connecting. You’ve got to hit those, and we didn’t connect on that one [post pattern in the end zone] . . . Next time, we’ll hit it. The time after that, the rest of the time, we start hitting it. First game, we’ll just have to deal with it.”
There is no denying the potential for this offense. And even though Beckham did not score, his performance against the Jaguars should pay dividends.
“Days like this are going to set our offense up for the whole season,” tight end Evan Engram said after last week’s loss. “You watch the tape and you see Odell getting open and finding spots in zones, defenses are going to have to account for that. That’s going to open up a lot more stuff. It’s definitely good to have him doing that. You can scheme up all day and it’s still going to be hard to stop ‘13.’ He’s definitely a huge benefit for us.”
Beckham is happy to help in that regard.
“It’s going to be the same as it always was,” he said of defenses keying on him. “If they’re doing that, there are going to be matchup problems across the board that they’re going to have to deal with, and if they’re cool with dealing with that, that’s fine. I know that these other guys, [Sterling] Shepard and Evan and everybody else are going to make plays, are going to make it tough.
“You saw [Barkley] take it 68 yards. That’s what he does. A slant, we’re going 60. Evan is liable to go at any time. I get on Shep all the time: ‘It’s time for you to start taking these slants to the house.’ ”
It’s time for somebody to do it. Otherwise, the Giants will continue to be a “one-play-away” team. One play away from winning.