Heading into a Week 6 bout with the Eagles, the wound from OBJ's divisive comments in an Oct. 5 interview with ESPN was fresh -- head coach Pat Shurmur clearly didn't appreciate his remarks. The heartbreaking loss to Carolina in Week 5 also didn't help matters.
So when the Giants floundered against the Eagles last Thursday, sinking them to 1-5 on the season, all eyes turned to see how OBJ would react to another poor performance. Once again, there was controversy. Beckham left the field and went to the locker room prior to the final play of the first half, when the Giants had the ball. He was also seen head-butting and hitting a cooling fan on the sideline in the second half. After the game, Shurmur addressed both situations by saying Beckham departed for the locker room to receive an IV, and when asked about the player's sideline antics, the coach replied to reporters, "He can't do that. He shouldn't do that."
Maybe Beckham has expressed himself in the wrong way or at the wrong time, but I don't blame him for being frustrated. He has every right to be, given the way things are going for his team.
There are a lot of issues surrounding the Giants' offense right now -- co-owner John Mara discussed some of them on Tuesday at the NFL's Fall League Meeting. (He also said OBJ "needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.") The Giants sit at the bottom of the NFC East and are one of six teams putting up less than 20 points per game -- yet the G-Men boast the most talent of these offenses, by far. In a year when receivers are putting up gaudy numbers on the regular, Beckham's not. He has alternated between 100-yard receiving games and much quieter showings this season, most recently having made six catches for just 44 yards against the Eagles.
Beckham has voiced his displeasure with the Giants' lack of downfield passing, and it appears Shurmur has, too. As one of the best receivers in the NFL, Beckham's frustrations are valid: He ranks significantly lower in yards per reception, targets and receptions on deep passes of 20-plus air yards this season than peers Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins, per NFL Research. Yes, OBJ is consistently double-teamed, but so are the game's other top pass catchers. Good teams find a way to consistently get the best players the ball. Period. Moreover, when targeting Beckham, Eli Manning's yards per attempt (7.3) and passer rating (85.8) are career lows since the receiver came into the league (this excludes 2017, when Beckham played in just four games).
There are several reasons for the offense's poor play. The Giants aren't being creative with play-calling -- Shurmur has never been a Sean McVay or Andy Reid on the strategic front -- and Manning is losing (quickly) to Father Time. Eli's declining skills, combined with poor offensive line play, have resulted in countless checkdowns and dink-and-dunk throws to Saquon Barkley, taking downfield targets away from a potentially open Beckham.
Beckham's frustration is validated by what this offense has done (or hasn't done) so far. He's not the only one who has been a victim of his circumstances this season, though. Which other superstars have the right to be frustrated right now? Here are two others:
Falcons QB Matt Ryan: Despite the Falcons' disappointing 2-4 record, Ryan's production through six games (69.6 completion percentage, 325.8 passing yards per game, 14 TDs, two INTs, 113.6 passer rating) is comparable to the pace he set during his MVP campaign in 2016 (68.1 completion percentage, 345.8 passing ypg, 15 TDs, three INTs, 117.9 passer rating). I fear Ryan's outstanding play will go underappreciated all season because of the team's woes on the other side of the ball. Atlanta, which lost key defensive players to injury early in the season, including safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones, is allowing the third-most yards per game (417.5) and the second-most points per game (32).
The defense must find a way to create turnovers and limit opposing offenses to field goals more frequently. With the trade deadline two weeks away, the Falcons should at least try to make a play for a game-changing safety or cornerback to shore up the secondary, although there might not be one for the taking. The season isn't over at 2-4 and it would be a shame for this kind of offensive production to go to waste.
Colts QB Andrew Luck: The Colts have passed the ball on 68 percent of their offensive plays, with no quarterback attempting more passes than Luck's 288 (the most through the first six games of a season in the Super Bowl era). Luck, who missed the entire 2017 campaign with a shoulder injury, is being asked to do a lot with little help from the run game and his receivers. The Colts feature a committee of backs (Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines) and rank 29th in rushing yards. With no real threat in the run game, the offense can't fully benefit from run-pass option plays, one of the things that made Philadelphia's offense so successful last season under Frank Reich, who's now the head man in Indy.
According to Pro Football Focus, Luck (210) and Minnesota's Kirk Cousins (207) have thrown more than 200 catchable passes, yet Luck's receiving corps has had seven more drops than Cousins'. Indeed, one difference between the two signal-callers is the talent surrounding them. Cousins has arguably the best receiver tandem in the league right now, while the Colts are trying to stay afloat without veteran T.Y. Hilton, who's missed the last two games due to injuries. NFL Research noted that since Hilton entered the league in 2012, the Colts are 0-4 when the receiver does not play and have been outscored 163-86 in those losses. Tight end Eric Ebron has been a bright spot, leading the team in receiving yards (326) and receiving touchdowns (six). Getting Hilton back in the mix will help, but Indy (1-5) won't compete in the division until it finds a run game.
Each week in the 2018 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 7 pecking order is below.
Gurley keeps pushing the envelope statistically. This week: 28 carries for a career-high 208 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. This is one heck of a season he has going.
After a rough first half for Mahomes on Sunday night, I was impressed with how well the young QB played down the stretch. He proved the moment wasn't too big for him, as he went toe to toe with Tom Brady. And who knows ... If the Chiefs' defense could stop anyone, maybe the Rams wouldn't be the only undefeated team.
Was there ever a doubt that Brady was going to march down the field and orchestrate a game-winning drive? If you answer "yes," you're kidding yourself. Brady is just too good. As a former NFL quarterback, I loved every minute of that Sunday night shootout, with Brady and Mahomes dueling until the end.
The high Brees has been riding since becoming the NFL's all-time passing leader could be short-lived coming off a bye week. The Saints head on the road to face a Ravens team that ranks No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing a measly 12.8 points per game. How will the Saints overcome this challenge? This is one of the best matchups of the week.
A ferocious Niners pass rush gave Rodgers fits for most of the game, but the veteran quarterback had the last laugh, per usual. He led the Packers to a win on the final two drives of the game, the first resulting in a touchdown to tie it at 30 and the second ending with a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby.
I know one thing: Brown and Ben Roethlisberger had a great WiFi connection on the final TD that sealed the win at Paul Brown Stadium. Brown expects to make great plays like Sunday's game-winning, catch-and-run touchdown every week, which is why his emotions sometimes get the best of him when he feels he doesn't get the chance. I have a feeling Brown is just getting started.
After his 2017 breakout campaign, Thielen has been even better this year. Through six weeks, he leads the league in receiving yards (712) and receptions (58) and has put up at least 100 receiving yards in each of the first six games to start the season -- only Charley Hennigan has a longer streak of such games (seven) to start a season in pro football history (with the AFL's Houston Oilers in 1961), per NFL Research.
The Texans eked out a win over Buffalo in a turnover- and penalty-ridden contest. It was a dismal game by Deshaun Watson -- 177 pass yards, one TD, two INTs, one fumble lost and a 61.6 passer rating -- but Hopkins made his routine big plays to keep the Texans competitive, finishing with five catches for 63 yards (12.6 yards per catch) and a TD.
Gordon has taken the Chargers to new levels and might be the reason we see them late in January. With the Bolts' RB1 racking up nine total touchdowns through six games, it's time I recognize Gordon's immense impact on his team.
After Sunday's five catches for 61 yards, Kelce is second among tight ends in receptions (33) and receiving yards (468) this season.
When Gurley has 200-plus rushing yards, it's not the end of the world if Goff doesn't throw a TD. That said, Sunday's game represented Goff's worst output of the season in all major categories. He has a challenging slate ahead of him, with meetings against San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle and Kansas City up next.
Another solid week for Cincinnati's WR1 (seven receptions for 85 yards). His drop here is because Green's been held out of the end zone, which is where he's most dangerous as a 6-foot-4 weapon, since Week 4.
JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 15
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: His running backs carried the load in a blowout win over Cleveland. Even so, Rivers is on pace for a career-high 40 passing touchdowns this season. He has 15 right now.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: He's finally getting some help from the ground attack, which has averaged 157.3 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks. Unlike last season, Wilson hasn't had to account for the entire offense.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: The Falcons got a much-needed divisional win against the Bucs. Jones hauled in 10 catches for 143 yards and (once again) no TDs. Per NFL Research, Atlanta's WR1 now has 707 receiving yards this season without a touchdown. The next-closest wideout without a TD? Oakland's Martavis Bryant with 220 receiving yards.