In absentia, these two NFL stars prove they’re worth the money

Vincent Frank
Odell Beckham Jr. Giants

Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were sidelined during Week 1 for vastly different reasons.

Attempting to get a raise from the six-year, $53.4 million deal he’s currently playing under, Brown has held out since the Texans’ off-season program began. Meanwhile, Beckham Jr. suffered a sprained ankle in the Giants’ third preseason game and has not returned to practice since.

With these two star players out of action this past Sunday, the Texans and Giants struggled at alarming rates on the offensive side of the ball.

Houston fell to the previously helpless Jacksonville Jaguars by the score of 29-7 at home. It’s a game that saw quarterback Tom Savage benched at halftime in favor of Deshaun Watson. It also saw the two signal callers go down a combined 10 times in what was a disastrous overall performance from the team’s offensive line.

That’s coming from a veteran NFL reporter of 40-plus years. And really, it didn’t stop there. The game tape itself was absolutely atrocious.

Tell us exactly what Deshaun Watson is expected to do there?

For his part, new Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell recorded four sacks going up against a makeshift offensive line without Brown in the mix.

It also appears that the Texans are somewhat at the point where they understand these struggles are inevitable.

“You play this game long enough it’s going to happen to you,” offensive tackle Chris Clark said, via Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “We weren’t expecting this to hit us like this. We just didn’t come to play I guess. We have to get better. We will get better.”

Hopefully, somehow, getting better includes Brown himself returning to the mix. Because, the status quo just isn’t going to work for the Texans moving forward.

Sure there were issues with both Savage and Watson getting rid of the ball on time. DeAndre Hopkins and Co. also failed to get open consistently against an elite Jags corner duo of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. Even then, the onus to protect your quarterback is completely on the offensive line.

Now, set to start Watson on a short week against a hungry Cincinnati Bengals defense, one has to wonder if the Texans are throwing the rookie out there to fail. Their offensive line wasn’t good enough to protect its starting quarterback, so why not go with a wide-eyed rookie? That’s Texans logic right there.

And for his part, Brown’s holdout has pretty much told us a story of an organization that needs to pay him top-five left tackle money. That’s his negotiating strength, when in fact, the two sides actually start talking again.

In Dallas, the Giants’ offense was absolutely abysmal against what many perceived to be a weak Cowboys defense. It took until midway through the third quarter for Eli Manning and Co. to cross their own 35-yard line. In the first half alone, New York tallied a grand total of two first downs and 50 yards of offense.

Obviously, the Giants’ offensive line had its own issues here. Demarcus Lawrence made mincemeat out of right tackle Bobby Hart throughout the game.

But in reality, it was the receiver’s inability to get open sans Beckham Jr. that hurt Eli and Co. in an embarrassing 19-3 loss. New acquisition Brandon Marshall caught one pass for 10 yards on four targets. Second-year receiver Sterling Shepard put up seven catches, but had only 44 yards on eight targets. Ouch.

This led to a whole bunch of questions, some of which we really don’t have answers to.

Even at less than 100 percent, OBJ would have taken some of the pressure off these secondary receiving options. Though, the Giants were smart to play it close to the vest. A Week 1 loss to Dallas won’t ruin your season. Losing your star receiver for an extended period of time surely will.

And that’s the point here.

It’s not that the Giants lost to a reigning division champion and likely Super Bowl contender on the road in Week 1. It’s how they lost. And it’s how they don’t have any real answers to questions most of us seem to believe are common sense.

“The offense was very disappointing. We’re going to go back and look at the film, and see how we can get better,” head coach Ben McAdoo said following the loss, via NJ.com. “We need to go back and take a look at the film. I know no part of the offense was functional tonight.”

Insert Captain Obvious GIF right here. Okay, we’ll do it for you.

Should we help McAdoo here? It didn’t work because your star receiver — one that has put up 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns in three seasons — was inactive. It didn’t work because he wasn’t on the field to take up double teams and act as a thorn in the side of the defense. That’s why it didn’t work, Mr. McAdoo.

OBJ may be demanding to become the highest-paid receiver in the game. He’s also had maturity issues, both on and off the field. At this point, does that really matter?

Eli Manning is in the twilight of his career. The Giants have built a bully on defense. And if Sunday’s loss showed anything, OBJ is still the team’s most-valuable player. Pay the man what he’s worth and live to fight another day. If not, a repeat of this performance is more than likely once Beckham Jr. either works his way out of Jersey or holds out — much like what we’re seeing from Duane Brown in Houston.