Can Anyone Help Odell Beckham Jr. Carry the Offense?
Friday will be the first game of the New York Giants 2016 season when they take on the Miami Dolphins. Yes, it’s a preseason game, but it’s in these games that one hopes to catch a glimpse of our next offensive weapon.
It’s frightening to think where the Giants’ offense would be without Odell Beckham Jr., but as good as he is, he alone cannot sustain a winning offense.
As Beckham becomes an even bigger playmaker on the field, teams will use their better defenders to try and contain him. Theoretically, this should free up the second or third receiver to make an impact.
New York Giants Wide Receivers
Only two teams had more drops in 2015 that the Giants, according to sportingcharts.com. The bulk of which seemed to come at the hands of Rueben Randle.
Randle was a disappointment for the Giants. Drafted in the second round in 2009, he never lived up to the hopes of being a big-time target. He’s never broken 1,000 receiving yards nor caught more than 8 touchdowns in a single season.
He bitterly left NY this offseason and signed with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, where he will no longer have Beckham to blame for not getting enough targets.
Bringing back Hakeem Nicks last year proved to be ineffective, as he had 7 catches all season. And it’s almost comical how poorly the Giants’ tight ends handle catching the ball. Of all 4 used, undrafted Will Tye, from Stony Brook University, showed the most promise finishing the year with 42 receptions and 3 touchdowns.
Fifth in receptions with 36 last season was Dwayne Harris. The special teams star proved to be a dangerous weapon on kick and punt returns. He returned a touchdown for both and collected nearly 1,000 yards between them.
He also managed to rack up almost 400 receiving yards, but had 60 fewer receptions and 1,000 fewer reception yards than Beckham. The risk of his getting hurt during offensive drives does not outweigh his impact on them.
Is the Answer Victor Cruz?
After being sidelined since 2014, the hope is that Victor Cruz will once again provide the Giants with a deep threat.
This is a big assumption. First, Cruz has a history of being cleared to play only to later re-injure himself; setbacks have become the expectation rather than the exception. Just this week it was announced, all too familiarly, that he will be sitting out of Friday’s game.
Second, as exciting as Cruz can be, he can be as equally bad. Cruz is remembered for some of his remarkable big plays. But in reality, he has not played a full season since 2012 — when he was selected to the Pro Bowl. And even that season he was second in drops in the league.
Since 2012, Cruz’s stock has plummeted. He has a great story and an even better personality. It’s easy to root for someone like that, especially one who has been plagued with injuries in the prime of their career.
But he timidly plays the slot, and someone with a history of injuries who is afraid to get injured again is not likely to be much of a threat over the middle, which is where Cruz is most effective.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Rookie Sterling Shepard, from Oklahoma University, has been impressing coaches at training camp. He has been listed as the starting wide receiver on the Giants first unofficial depth chart.
In 2015, he had 86 receptions, 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for OU. If he can keep similar numbers while transitioning from college to the pros, he can be a great compliment to Beckham.
There’s also Anthony Dablé, the 27-year-old French native. Since turning 19, he has played 8 professional football seasons in Europe. Last year, playing for the New Yorker Lions in the German Football League, he had 1,251 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.
Dabble is currently battling just to make the team, but at 6’4”, he’s a much-needed target in the red zone.
Having one star receiver won’t cut it in today’s pass-happy NFL. Eli Manning has mastered the act of making average wide receivers look like all stars. Though this was not the case in 2015, Friday’s game brings with it a fresh start to a new season.
Starters usually play for all of a drive or two, pending their rapport with the team, during the first preseason game. That gives ample time for someone to stand out.
(New York Giants Wide Receivers)