New York Giants owner John Mara just sent a blunt message to Odell Beckham Jr. And unlike the wide receiver, Mara’s strong words did not come via an ESPN interview.
“I wish he would create headlines by his play on the field as opposed to what he says and does off the field,” Mara told reporters Tuesday in a rather brutal five-minute session as NFL owners gathered in New York for their annual fall meetings. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”
Beckham, as he often does, has prompted recent headlines for actions unrelated to football. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the receiver threw quarterback Eli Manning under the bus while also refusing to say whether he is happy in New York. Beckham, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, was fined for the remarks, which were delivered in a joint interview session with Lil Wayne.
“I don’t know,” Beckham replied when asked if Manning is an issue for Giants, who fell to 1-5 after that interview aired. “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 won two Super Bowls with the Giants, but they were 3-13 last season and this year holds little hope for improvement.
“I’m still embarrassed being 1-5,” Mara said. “I can’t stand up here and make any excuses about that. You are what your record says you are, as a wise man once said, and there’s nothing I can say to make people feel better about that. I’m suffering just as much as our fans are, probably more.”
Questions are swirling about Manning’s decline at the age of 37, and about his team’s apparent refusal to consider moving on. The Giants chose running back Saquon Barkley rather than a quarterback with the second pick in the NFL draft, a decision that supplied endless tabloid headlines. They’ve also watched their stadium-mates, the Jets, have early success with rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who was the third pick in the draft.
Mara called Manning, who turns 38 in January, the “punching bag” for all that ails the Giants, and defended the team’s decision to select Barkley.
“We took the best player in the draft,” Mara told reporters. “I’m thrilled with what he’s accomplished so far and I think the sky’s the limit for him. ”
Still, there has been little hint that the Giants are about to find the answer to their problems, which will again be on national display Monday night against the Falcons, and Mara admitted that there might not be a quick fix. Calls for the team to switch to a different quarterback — Kyle Lauletta? Alex Tanney? — in an effort to jump-start the offense are apparently falling on deaf ears, and Mara said he would let Coach Pat Shurmur and his staff decide whether to make a change.
“I think when you’re 1-5, it generally means that everybody needs to play better, so he’s not alone,” Mara said of Manning. “I still . . . we still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that’s not happening. I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5.”
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