How do you top two of the most productive seasons any wide receiver ever has had at the start of his NFL career? For Odell Beckham Jr., it’s about improving the stats that matter the most.
“The numbers mean something in a sense,” Beckham said as he embarks on the third season of his so far remarkable career. “But the 6-10 number, flip that around. Ten and six means a lot more.”
Even if, he said, he has to catch fewer passes and touchdowns to make it happen.
“There’s no better feeling than being on the field and everything is clicking and we’re winning games,” he said. “I remember my freshman year in college (at LSU). We were 13-0 and I wasn’t going for 120 yards a game. It was 50 yards, five catches, the blocks that you made to spring a running back. It’s really about winning. I hate losing.”
This may be the year when Beckham finally gets to swap productivity for victory. After averaging 93.5 catches and 1,377.5 yards in his first two years with the Giants, it undoubtedly will be difficult to reach those statistical standards.
“They’re going to be tough to duplicate,” Ben McAdoo said.
The hope is that he won’t have to.
“We always talk to the offense that we can’t go out there and play with two footballs,” McAdoo said. “There are a lot of guys that deserve opportunities to touch the ball. They don’t keep track of assists in this league, but they go a long way with your teammates.”
Beckham certainly will draw the attention of defenses this season, making him more comparable to John Stockton than Jerry Rice. That will begin with the Cowboys on Sunday.
“He’s one of those guys where you have to know where he is every time he breaks the huddle, so we understand the challenges he presents as a downfield receiver, as a receiver who they throw the ball to underneath, who can make plays after he catches it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We will certainly do everything that we can to slow him down.”
That should leave one-on-one coverages for others. One of those teammates should be Victor Cruz. Beckham and Cruz have played only six quarters together, and after two years of daydreaming about what they’ll be able to accomplish on the field at the same time, it appears they will get a chance to show it. Cruz is back from knee and calf injuries and said he is ready to play in his first regular-season games since October 2014.
“I’m just ready to be out there with him,” Beckham said. “Coming from college, going into the league, I watched a lot of his film. I’ve seen what he can do. I’ve stolen bits and pieces from him whether he knows it or not. I’m excited to have him back, if not more excited (than he is). I’m just as excited, I think, for him to be able to get back on the field and do what he loves.”
Throw in rookie Sterling Shepard, and Beckham probably doesn’t have to match his production of the first two years to have what he would consider an even better season.
“I definitely want to get better each and every year,” he said.
No matter how that’s measured.