Coming into yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the most talked-about players in the NFL, and with good reason. He’s racked up 182 receptions for 2,701 yards and 25 touchdowns in less than two seasons. He’s been one of the few bright spots on a Giants team that’s 6-8 and barely clinging to a chance for a playoff spot, thanks to a mediocre NFC East.
After the Giants’ 38-35 loss to Carolina, Beckham is still the talk of the league, but for reasons that are anything but good. His epic meltdown, in which he committed three personal fouls and a helmet-to-helmet hit where he launched himself at cornerback Josh Norman (watch here), has raised questions about his maturity.
Beckham didn’t have a catch in the first half, and even dropped a potential touchdown pass. The Giants fell behind 35-7 before mounting a comeback that tied the game, only to fall short when Cam Newton drove the Panthers to a winning field goal.
As the Giants unraveled, so did Beckham. What’s worse, coach Tom Coughlin did nothing to prevent Beckham’s meltdown.
While admitting he considered removing his receiver from the game, and that he had lost his composure, Coughlin added he wanted Beckham to learn how to handle tough situations.
Beckham learned something, all right: If the referee doesn’t eject you and your coach does nothing to save you from yourself, then it’s okay to take out your frustrations with dirty tactics.
Beckham pulled himself together and contributed to the Giants’ comeback, ending up with 76 yards, six catches and a touchdown. But Coughlin should have stepped up when the officials didn’t, especially since he’d already spoken to Beckham before the game about keeping his cool. Beckham and Norman had been trash talking all week, so Coughlin obviously knew the danger of his player losing focus.
If Beckham had been ejected (and he should have been), Coughlin would have been off the hook. But that didn’t happen, and it’s fortunate Norman didn’t sustain a serious injury as a result of the flagrant hit.
Coughlin’s real reason for leaving Beckham in is obvious: he didn’t want to lose one of his best players, especially since referee Terry McAulay and his crew decided not to toss him.
Here’s the problem, Tom: you may be without him anyway.
Sources told Espn.com’s Adam Schefter the NFL will likely suspend Beckham for one game, and a fine is certainly inevitable. Coughlin may be without his star receiver at a time when his team needs all the help it can get to avoid missing the postseason for a fourth straight year.
If there was any question of whether Coughlin should return as the Giants’ coach next season, yesterday’s handling of the Beckham fiasco should give team management enough evidence to answer with a resounding, “no.”