EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. had 15 targets in the opener. The following day New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur was asked about that heavy workload and said there would probably be a day when Beckham didn’t have that many passes thrown in his direction. Shurmur predicted that would result in him being asked, ‘Why not?’
It didn’t take long for this scenario to come to fruition. It happened one week later, after Beckham was targeted nine times in a 20-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He finished with four catches for 51 yards, but two of those receptions and four of the targets came in the final minutes when the game was all but out of reach.
It was a rather quiet and uneventful game for one of the league’s best wide receivers. Beckham was target just twice during a 46-minute stretch that spanned midway through the first quarter until late into the fourth. It has the Giants entering this week knowing they need to do a better job of getting their star receiver going early against the Houston Texans.
“Yeah, we want to obviously get him involved,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “He's such a productive player for us and getting him involved early, so I think it’s just -- the easiest thing to say is, yeah, we got to game plan.”
The plan is likely to be heavy on Beckham, especially in the scripted portion early in the contest. Don’t be surprised to see some screens, jet sweeps or quick-hitters to get him going. Anything to get the ball in his hands, which should be satisfactory to Beckham's fantasy owners and the player himself.
“I don’t mind,” Beckham said with a smile when told of Shula’s intentions.
Of course not. He's almost always open in his own mind, and the Giants (0-2) are a much better offense when Beckham is heavily involved. That was the case in the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants looked dangerous and close to a team that could do some damage, even against a dominant defense. Not so much against the Cowboys, when they looked woefully incompetent.
Beckham had 11 catches for 111 yards and should’ve had more if quarterback Eli Manning cooperated against the Jaguars. He was involved early and often, unlike last week when he drifted into obscurity while the Giants' offense stumbled badly and managed three points over the first three quarters.
Beckham is bound for a bounce-back on Sunday. He’s had four or fewer catches in nine career games. Only once the following week has Beckham not been more productive, and that was the second game of his career. He’s averaged seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown the week after subpar performances.
Three times Beckham came back after totaling four or fewer catches and had 130 yards or better. It would hardly be surprising to see that kind of effort against a Texans team with a banged-up secondary that doesn't have a true shutdown cornerback.
Houston knows what kind of challenge it is in for trying to defend Beckham off a poor outing.
“He's probably the best receiver in the game right now. ... He poses a problem for some of the best DBs in the game,” said Texans cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was teammates with Beckham at LSU.
Beckham believes it will help if he’s involved early. Some quick catches allow him to get into rhythm. It would also likely mean the Giants' offense is moving the ball -- which it didn’t do much of Sunday night in Dallas -- with the potential for a big play.
That would be to Beckham's liking, for a variety of reasons.
“I just know, and I guess it’s for anybody, if you can make one or two big plays early, your confidence is up,” Beckham said. “You know that I’m ready for whenever it comes to me again, but if you don’t get it, you kind of can’t find a rhythm, it’s hard. It’ll be like a 3-point shooter getting in a game and doesn’t get to get his shot up. It’s hard to find a rhythm, so it’s just about finding a rhythm, collectively.”
The Giants' offense has scored just two touchdowns in two games. Beckham has yet to find the end zone. Sooner or later, that will change. Only three times in his career has he gone three consecutive games without a touchdown.
Manning is aware. He knows Beckham would like the ball more, giving him more opportunities to make a big play. The Giants desperately need one, preferably early against the Texans. Expect Beckham to get plenty of targets (think double digits) throughout the contest as a result.