What would have happened, Odell Beckham Jr. was asked, if Jaguars safety Barry Church and cornerback Jalen Ramsey had not blatantly grabbed him on two separate plays in the second quarter of the season opener. Beckham did not say anything, but he thrust both his arms up into the air.
Oh, how the Giants are missing what Beckham signaled. They need him prancing and dancing in the end zone, and not only for the points assigned to a touchdown.
The resulting penalties inflated a Giants drive with 45 penalty yards, but what the pass interference calls prevented was far more inhibiting than exhilarating to the Giants. They stalled and kicked a field goal in a 20-15 loss, so the strategy employed by the Jacksonville defense worked splendidly.
“Like ‘Hack-a- Shaq?’ ” Beckham asked.
Continuing with the Cowboys on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas, opponents will give a little and play some Hold-ell Beckham if the alternative is watching the blond-haired dynamo erupt and rejoice in jubilation as only he can.
“They don’t like that,’’ Beckham said.
No, defenses do not like that. His own team, though, feeds off the Odell eruption so intensely that not having that release leaves the entire offense lacking. The proof is in the past: Beckham can do damage, but the Giants do not win unless he is the difference.
The 11-catch, 111-yard showing against the Jaguars was the 20th game in which Beckham reached 100 receiving yards. The Giants are 7-13 in those games. In the seven victories, Beckham scored at least one touchdown six times. They want him in the end zone. They need him in the end zone. And Beckham knows when he gets in the end zone, it is worth more than six points.
“I do want to get in the end zone,’’ he said Thursday. “That way it gives energy and I can bring that energy forward. But if I can’t I’m gonna try to bring it any other way I possibly can.’’
Of all the receivers in the league targeted at least 10 times in Week 1, none averaged more than the 4.6 yards of separation Beckham achieved on his 15 targets. That is quite an achievement, given the quality of the Jaguars defensive backfield. Beckham’s longest reception was 24 yards — not long enough, given his customary brilliance after he catches the ball. He was not bottled up, but he was not unleashed, either. Part of this was the two penalties the Jaguars took, gladly, and part of this is on Eli Manning, who must pick up his game when it comes to making perfect strikes to his most dangerous weapon. Attaining 4.6 yards of separation is not merely creating a window, it is blasting a cavern to throw into.
Beckham will get open, even more so in coach Pat Shurmur’s system, with offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s direction, lining up in a variety of spots along the line, in motion, in the slot and split wide.
“With coach Shula helping me and putting me in a position to really get open and run away from people and use the ability that I have,’’ Beckham said, “he’s putting me in good places where I should be able to get open, and get separation and be able to make big plays.’’
Yes, he should, and he will. If Manning cannot find him, or reach him, or overthrows him, it will be an indictment of the 37-year old quarterback. What should have sprouted into a 67-yard touchdown pass play in the third quarter last week wilted and died when Beckham could not catch up to a Manning pass that sailed out of his reach in the end zone. Beckham got bumped off his route, but there was enough room for an adjustment that was not made.
“It’s just first-game stuff, everybody getting on the same page and just connecting,’’ Beckham said. “You got to hit those. We’ll get it next time.’’
If so, Beckham already knows what celebration he will unveil. If it happens against the Cowboys, it will be the first Beckham touchdown in 344 days.
“We’ll see when it happens,’’ he said. “I got something.’’
He always does. Now it is up to the Giants around him to rise to the level of their most gifted player.
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