Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants have been searching for answers for their struggling offense entering Sunday's matchup with the Carolina Panthers. In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson (that included rapper Lil Wayne) last week, Beckham said he couldn't rule out quarterback Eli Manning as the problem and admitted he wasn't fully content with his role.
Manning has been Beckham's starting quarterback ever since Beckham entered the league in 2014. The two have combined for 38 touchdowns, tied for sixth among active quarterback-wide receiver duos entering Sunday, but they hadn't connected for a touchdown this season going into Sunday.
"I don't know," Beckham said when asked if there was an issue at quarterback. "Like I said, I feel like he's not going to get out the pocket. He's not -- we know Eli's not running it. But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it's been pretty safe and it's been, you know ... cool catching shallow [routes] and trying to take it to the house. But I'm, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody."
Manning has completed 3 of 12 passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield this season entering Sunday. He is 2-of-5 on such throws to Beckham, with both completions coming in the opener. Beckham has been targeted twice downfield in the past three weeks.
It has the Pro Bowl wide receiver questioning whether he is being used in a role that maximizes his potential.
"I haven't been in this situation. I haven't been in the place where I felt like I could really go out and do everything that I'm capable of doing," Beckham said. "I don't get 20 targets like some other receivers, you know."
Beckham has been targeted 45 times over the first four weeks, tied for eighth in the NFL. He has 31 catches for 331 yards.
"I feel like in the past five years, they found a way to run a Cover 2, keep everything in front, and that's how they played me," Beckham said. "And there's no way to -- how do we beat this? I feel like I'm being out-schemed, and then I also don't have a chance to, like, do something where I've got to take a slant and go 60. And not to say that's not fun, but it's like I want some easy touchdowns too. I watch everybody across the league. All the top receivers get the ball the way that they, you know, should. And if they don't, they say something about it."
The Giants (1-3) have failed to reach 20 points in three of their four games. The offense is sputtering in an extension of the previous two years even though it's a new system under coach Pat Shurmur.
Beckham mentioned needing to see more energy and heart from the Giants. Shurmur had responded to those comments Friday by saying he thought they just needed better execution.
"I think it's everything at the moment. It's just everything. It's just everything," Beckham said. "And not to say that it's not going to work at the moment. I feel like I work entirely way too hard."
Beckham signed a five-year extension that could be worth $95 million with the Giants this offseason. He's going nowhere. Still, he couldn't say for sure whether he is truly happy in New York.
"It's a tough question," said Beckham, who makes his offseason home in Los Angeles. "Obviously, I love seeing the sunshine all the time. I love, you know, I love being in L.A. I just like that atmosphere, but this is where I'm at. I remember before games, I used to get that. I used to get butterflies, like good butterflies. I was anxious. And now when I step on the field, it's something completely different. It's not butterflies.
"It's like I want to be here, like I've been waiting to get here this whole time. I feel like a caged animal who gets this -- it's my 60 minutes of playtime. You know, I can play with other people. We can play nice, or we don't have to play nice. But I get to play, and I get to do all this. This is my time to be out of the cage. You know, if somebody's messing with me during my time to be out of the cage, like, it's going to be a problem."
In a season in which a record number of points were scored through four weeks, the Giants are near the bottom of the league, averaging 18.3 points per game. Beckham says it's hard for him to watch the Giants struggle and not reach the end zone himself.
"Heated," he said of what it's like to watch other teams' offensive success, specifically the Los Angeles Rams. "You know, because I know what I'm capable of. I know what I feel like I bring to the table each and every day. And that's all I want to do. That's literally all I want to do. I -- I've given up -- personally sacrificed a lot of things recently. Just giving it up, just because this is all I want to do. ... We going to get it right, as long as I'm here, like I just -- I don't see myself losing, and I hate losing. I don't want to be the one at the end of the career who, 'Oh, he had a great career, and all this, no -- no rings, no, none of that.' Like, that's not my -- that's not why I came here to play. That's not my M.O."