EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham, Jr. has 15 receptions in this young season, the most he's had in his first two games in any of his five years with the Giants. But he is averaging just 10.8 yards a catch, well below his 14.1-yard career average entering the season.
Those numbers are indicative that the long ball has been missing from the Giants' offense. Eli Manning has completed 56 passes, but only one of them -- a 37-yarder to Cody Latimer last Sunday night in Dallas -- gained more than 25 yards.
"It just hasn't happened," Beckham said today of the deep balls. "We had some shots, but we just didn't connect on them. It's all happening so fast, these first two games. Get the jitters out of the way, and get the season going."
The Giants will try to connect on some long passes, and win for the first time this season, when they visit the Houston Texans on Sunday in a battle of 0-2 teams. If they are to realize both of those goals, Beckham will almost certainly be heavily involved.
"I think we need to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers the right way," coach Pat Shurmur said. "The first game, Odell touched it a bunch (15 targets, plus a rushing attempt). Last game, Saquon (Barkley) touched it 25 times. Really, it doesn't matter if we're running it or throwing it to him, he touched the ball 25 times. We've got to do a better job in all areas so there's a little bit more space, I get that, but it's certainly important to get the ball to your playmakers and we will continue to do that the best we can."
"We want to obviously get him (Beckham) involved," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "He's such a productive player for us and get him involved early, so I think it's just – the easiest thing to say is yeah we got to game plan that, but he and Eli, they have such a good feel for the game. Just continue to utilize, not just their talents, but their awareness and their intelligence to be able to get him the football, whether or not it's short passes, inside passes, outside passes, all that kind of stuff."
Manning targeted Beckham on nine throws against the Cowboys. The three-time Pro Bowler caught four of them, for 51 yards. The longest completion was 17 yards.
"That's the way it goes sometimes," Shurmur said in reference to the reduced targets, not the catches and yards. "I think sometimes they come in bunches, sometimes bigger bunches than others, but we're all aware of the fact that it's important that he touches the ball early and often."
Beckham is such an exceptional athlete that it seems sometimes Manning can just throw him the ball and let him make a play. But Beckham said that it's not as simple as it appears.
"It's easier said than done," Beckham said. "…You don't just want to throw them into coverage and stuff like that. But just finding ways to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers and allow us to make plays and keep the ball moving, keep this offense going in the right direction."
The long completions aren't the only components missing from the Giants' offense. They rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (74.5) and 24th in yards per carry (3.7, largely because of Barkley's 68-yard touchdown run against Jacksonville).
Most glaringly, the Giants have scored only two touchdowns and only two teams have scored fewer than their total of 28 points. That extended the Giants' streak to 34 games without scoring at least 30 points. Beckham wasn't part of all of them, because he missed most of last season with an ankle injury. But he's baffled by it nonetheless.
"I feel like there's no way you can't score a touchdown in every quarter, and one somewhere else," he said. "It just doesn't seem unrealistic to me. I feel personally, I could score two touchdowns every game. I feel like Saquon could score two every game. There are other people on this team who could score every single game. That's over 35 points. It's just a matter of executing it and making it happen, really. But it doesn't seem out of reach for me in my mind, I don't want to win 24-21. I'm trying to win 52-18, whatever they score. Zero. Nobody said it had to be close."
Right now, the Giants will settle for a low-scoring, one-point victory. And for more production from the offense.
"It hasn't been good enough, but it's – but close I think is a key word." Shula said. "You don't want to use that as an excuse, but I think there's a fine line in everything that we do for us in our world with perception and reality. I think that perception is we're not there, it's not good enough. It hasn't been, but reality is we think we're really close and we do a couple of things here and there throughout and everybody does things more consistently. We are going to stay on the field, we are going to put points on the board, because I think we're too talented and get back to where we want to be."