EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham. Jr.'s personal goals went global today.
Asked in his weekly meeting with reporters what he hopes to "personally" accomplish in the second half of the season, the sensational wide receiver never mentioned catches, yards or touchdowns. His only goals are team-related, specifically, the Giants enjoying a much more successful final two months than they had while compiling their 1-7 record prior to the bye.
"Win eight games," Beckham said. "Go 9-7 and get in the playoffs. Giants been there before, 9-7 and got to the playoffs. I think they did pretty good, so that's the goal. (In 2011, they Giants became the only team to win the Super Bowl after finishing 9-7.) It's not an easy task, but that's the goal. We want to win every game, and do anything I can to help that."
The Giants will get their first opportunity to improve their record on Monday night when they visit the 2-7 San Francisco 49ers.
Beckham didn't just recite his lofty objective, he offered a blueprint for how the Giants can reach them.
"I think doing what we didn't do in the first half," he said. "We're doing the opposite of what we did in the first half. Scoring points in the red zone, completing drives, all the little things that have held us back. We've lost a lot of close games that we just didn't pull through. We know what situations we're in when we are in those close games. We just haven't found a way to pull them through. Just keep working. It's easy to sit up here and be like, 'We want to win eight games,' knowing that it's very tough to do. You just got to pull it all together now."
If they do, Beckham will certainly be one of the important contributors. With team-leading totals of 61 catches and 785 receiving yards, he is on pace to finish with 122 receptions and 1,570 yards, which would both be franchise-record figures (currently 107 and 1,536, respectively). He has scored only two touchdowns – and thrown for one – but that figure could well rise in the second half.
"He's been fine," coach Pat Shurmur said when asked how Beckham has handled the season's ups and downs. "He's like everybody, he's disappointed we've lost. But he's out at practice every day, he's working hard, and on game day, he's been great about trying to be part of the solution to get us to win. He's been fine."
Despite the brilliance exhibited by rookie Saquon Barkley and the contributions of Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, Beckham remains the Giants player most capable of making game-changing plays.
Because of that, he was asked if he feels more pressure to "be that spark for the offense."
"Not any more than I ever have," he said. "Hopefully, I can start catching some of these things and start taking them to the crib, making bigger plays. I put more on myself. I know that's something over the bye week, it was good to be able to take a step back and breathe, and get back in it. You got to put your best foot forward for the end of the season. Whatever happens is what's going to happen, but I know that my mentality is not going to be to quit. I'm going to be out there trying to go hard every play. Any chance that I get, that's just always how I'm going to be. I know we're not in a very good situation, but you just got to make the most out of that."
Beckham has another reason for optimism. He turned 26 on Monday, and he has traditionally played well on his birthday. He missed last year's birthday game because he was sidelined due to his fractured ankle. But two years ago, he scored two touchdowns in a victory against Philadelphia a day after turning 24. In 2015, he scored three touchdowns four days before the big day, and caught nine passes for 105 yards three days after it.
If it was up to Beckham, the Giants' bye would not be on the first weekend of November.
"If we would've had a game this week, I probably would've had the best game of my life," he said. "Every time it's around my birthday, even in high school – high school, I played on my birthday, I had five touchdowns. When I was five years old on my golden birthday, I scored five goals in soccer. Around my birthday time, I don't know what it is, it's the universe, the energy, whatever it is, I just play better, I just do better. It's still Scorpio season, so it's time to turn up."
Won't the contest with the 49ers be his birthday game?
"I guess it is," he said. "I'm going to have to. It's really (former Giants wide receiver) Victor Cruz's birthday (Nov. 11). So, I'm going to have to do something for him. Hopefully, I can score and do the salsa for him, or something, but it still is Scorpio season. It's time for me to step it up."
If he does, the Giants will have a much better chance to reverse their fortunes in the second half of the season.
"It's not impossible to win eight games," Beckham said. "It wasn't impossible to lose seven. Anything can happen, but the main focus is just this one game. Treat this game like this is your last game of the season. We want to go out with a win. Let's say you win that game, alright, now you're focused on the next one. This is the last game. You got to win it. Everything is a must-win for us. We want to win. That's going to be the goal going forward, is to win."
*Shurmur was asked today if the team's post-bye changes would be noticeable by outsiders.
"There's some tactical things, and usage of players may be a little bit different, but I don't know," Shurmur said. "We'll see. If we have good results, then it will be noticeable."
*The three players on the Giants' injury report all practiced fully today, including rookie wide receiver Jawill Davis, who had been in the NFL concussion protocol and was limited to non-contact work yesterday. The others were linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and tackle Chad Wheeler (ankle).