OBJ will be fine and the Cleveland Browns loss shouldn’t be pinned on him
Odell Beckham, Jr. of the Cleveland Browns is still a star, had successful surgery in the offseason and will be a productive player and a winner. He had a bad opening game at Baltimore, with only three catches out of 10 targets for 22 yards.
Last year, OBJ had a 1,000 yard season playing the entire year injured and needing surgery. You could see that he wasn’t able to fully extend for balls that he would normally have caught. He obviously played in pain and proved that he 1,000 percent has guts. He deserves great respect from the Cleveland fans.
There is a point to be made, however, about his toxic stat line from the Baltimore game. It was not the three catches or the 22 yards, though it was not a great performance.
The alarming stat was the ten targets. Jarvis Landry was second with six targets and caught five of them. The 2019 offense also seemed to be overly fixated on OBJ at times and on the vertical passing game in general, despite having the best tandem of running backs in the NFL. The Browns ranked 22nd in the league in rush attempts, which is very hard to belive.
It is only one game, of course, but on Sunday the Browns ranked 18th in rushing attempts, despite having success in the running game. They were fifth with 5.1 yards per carry, and that even includes new running back Jamie Gillan‘s disastrous run, which had the entire state of Maryland laughing at the Browns. Again, do not blame the player. Do blame the coaching staff for getting spooked early.
OBJ is not to blame for the pass-happy philosophy and the lack of trust in the running game. It felt like 2019 all over again, and that is not on Beckham.
Do not think that the Browns had to pass because they were behind. Desperation passes and fake punts and other stunts might be okay in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, but in the first half you have to score with your strengths. The coaching staff was just psyched out.
Remember, also that the Ravens have two Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and they play a lot of man-to-man defense. Mayfield misfired on a few of Beckham’s incompletions, including what could have been a touchdown pass. So that stat line is not all on OBJ, either. It’s not unexpected on a shortened pre-season. We knew it was going to be rough in game one and that is what happened.
OBJ just had a bad game, and he will be back.
The more serious problem is that if the Browns become overly reliant on one receiver, no matter how good he is, and if the defense catches the quarterback locking in on him, that is when safeties are going to make interceptions. It’s a bad habit, and the coaching staff and especially offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has got to get that straightened out.
Baker, for his part, has to trust what he sees and use his ability to find the open receiver like he did in 2018.