EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – If he keeps catching passes and gaining yards in the last five games at the same rate he established in the first 11, Odell Beckham, Jr. will finish the season with 107 receptions and 1,478 yards. Both of those figures would be the highest in his five-year career.
His previous bests were 101 catches in 2016 and 1,450 yards the previous year. OBJ has scored five touchdowns, and needs a productive last month to reach double-digits for the fourth time in his career. Which, for Beckham, is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.
But when asked this week to provide an assessment of his season, Beckham sounded lukewarm at best about what he’s accomplished.
“I don’t feel like it’s quite there,” he said. “Each year I come in, 1,000 yards is a minimum. I don’t look at it like, oh, I need to get 1,000 yards. My season starts after 1,000 yards. Trying to see how many yards I can get after 1,000. Ten touchdowns minimum. That’s just the goal.”
Beckham enters the Giants’ home game Sunday against the Chicago Bears with team-high totals of 74 catches, 1,017 yards, and five receiving touchdowns.
“For me, this year I came in with a mindset of being efficient,” Beckham said. “When I was in college and making plays - third and 11, being able to hit this first down, keep this drive alive. Just being effective and efficient. It’s not like a down year. My numbers are still my numbers. I guess that’s where my mindset is different than everybody else. I expect way higher of myself. I’m trying to reach 2,000 yards. I’m trying to go for 20 touchdowns, 100 receptions is tatted on me. Those are goals that hopefully in my career, in my future along with championships, winning, because numbers really don’t mean anything without winning. You can go home with 300 yards in a game with an L (loss). It’s not going to feel good. It’s really all about winning, and I just feel like I could’ve had a better year so far, but this is where I’m at. I just got to deal with that and just pushing to keep getting better day-by-day, working your craft. That’s all I can really do.”
When the season began, the Giants thought they had a deeper collection of receivers for Eli Manning to throw to. The No. 2 wideout, Sterling Shepard, has 48 receptions, or 26 less than Beckham. Cody Latimer was expected to be the No. 3 wideout, but a pulled hamstring has forced him to spend most of the season on injured reserve.
The wide receivers who have lined up with the big two – Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, Corey Coleman and Jawill Davis – have combined to catch 23 passes for 337 yards. None of them has scored a touchdown.
Tight end Evan Engram, who caught 64 passes and scored six touchdowns as a rookie in 2017, has missed almost five full games with knee and hamstring injuries, has only 23 catches and two scores. Engram, who pulled his hamstring during pregame warmups last week in Philadelphia, will be inactive again on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Beckham has been the Giants’ most targeted receiver with 115 passes thrown to him in 11 games. That is the NFL’s fourth-highest total, behind Atlanta’s Julio Jones (125), Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (124) and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (122).
Which is not to suggest that Beckham has operated without assistance. Running back Saquon Barkley is the NFL’s most productive rookie. His 242 touches from scrimmage (171 rushing attempts and 71 receptions) are the league’s third-highest total, behind Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott’s 264 (through Week 12, and before last night’s game vs. New Orleans) and the Rams’ Todd Gurley’s 253.
Barkley has 829 rushing yards and 581 receiving yards.
“Everybody’s adding things up, but for the people that care about that stuff, the two guys around here that touch the ball the most are Saquon and Odell,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “For whatever it’s worth, they’re two guys that we consider to be playmakers and we’re making an effort to give them the ball. I don’t see much beyond that.”
Although he’s likely to boost his statistics closer to his goals, Beckham’s primary objective in the season’s final month has nothing to do with numbers.
“Keep winning games, that’s it,” he said. “You never know what can happen. I wanted to win all eight (in the second half, after a 1-7 start). That’s not what happened, but there’s no giving up. There’s no quit, not from me or anybody in here. We just got to win these last whatever games, and see what happens.”
*Two Giants players have been declared out of Sunday’s game vs. Chicago, Engram and linebacker B.J. Goodson.
This will be Engram’s fifth missed game this season and in a sixth – at Houston on Sept. 23 – he participated in just 13 plays before suffering a knee injury.
Goodson has played in all 11 games, starting 10, and has recorded 38 tackles (25 solo) and two interceptions. He was injured in the fourth quarter last week in Philadelphia.
“We’ve just been trying to progress it and it hadn’t progressed far enough, that’s all,” Shurmur said. “Nothing’s worsened since the game on anything.”
Another linebacker, rookie Lorenzo Carter, is questionable with a hip injury.
*The Giants, New York Cares and Hoodies for the Homeless are inviting Giants fans to help those in need by donating new or gently worn coats and hoodies to their 23rd annual Coat and Hoodie Drive on Sunday, when the Giants host the Chicago Bears. Coats and hoodies can be dropped off with the New York Cares and Hoodies for the Homeless volunteers, who will be stationed at stadium entrances.