As fans and with many of us playing fantasy football, we love to look at the box score following a game to determine how a player performed in the game. In football, it comes down to yards, completions, carries, catches and touchdowns; defensively it is tackles, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, interceptions, pass breakups, sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hurries.1 A quarterback had a low completion percentage and didn’t have a lot of yards or touchdowns? Must’ve had a bad game. A running back or receiver didn’t have a lot of yards or touchdowns? Must’ve had a bad game. A defensive lineman didn’t have a lot of tackles for loss or sacks? Must’ve had a bad game. A defensive back didn’t have didn’t shut down the opposing receiver? Must’ve had a bad game.
While looking at a stat sheet following a game to determine whether a player played well or not is easy, convenient, and not time-consuming whatsoever, there’s so much more that goes into postgame evaluations than just the box score. Teams notice that while watching, dissecting, and analyzing every single play and player throughout film sessions. Even though he had seven targets (second-most on the team), Odell Beckham Jr. had just two catches for 20 yards. Many would consider that a bad game for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. If you watch the film from the game, you would realize that it was far from that. OBJ did so much for the Browns offense that will never show up in a box score. It’s what makes him so great and the reason the Browns are so lucky to have a dominant wideout like Odell.
On this fine Monday morning, WFNY will show you a glimpse of that as well. While there were a handful of plays that we can dissect, I’ll give you three big plays where OBJ’s existence on the football field made things so much easier for Cleveland’s offense.
The first one came on the Browns first touchdown of the game, to give them a 7-0 lead with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. While the fact that three Ravens players focused on Demetrius Harris for some reason, it’s also easy to realize that OBJ’s presence made it so that Ricky Seals-Jones was wide open for an easy nine-yard touchdown reception. With Harris taking three defenders his way, Beckham’s crossing pattern from the left side of the field to the right in the mesh play on third-and-3 made the guy that was originally covering Jones to switch to Odell, leaving the tight end wide open.
The second play was also when Mayfield was able to sling it to a wide-open Seals-Jones. With the cornerback that was originally lined up on the tight end blitzing, the safety was forced to come down and guard Seals-Jones, giving both the tight end that was lined up in the slot and OBJ one-on-one coverage. With Beckham running a short comeback route and Seals-Jones running up the seam, the safety decided to go double team OBJ, leaving the tight end wide open for an easy 59-yard reception. If it weren’t for the defensive back on the opposite side of the field catching up to the tight end, it would have been an easy 73-yard touchdown for that Mayfield-to-Seals-Jones connection that has quickly surfaced. Either way, it set up a Nick Chubb 14-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Not to be outdone by the previous two plays we have highlighted, the third and final play was during one of Freddie Kitchens’ creative plays that made Browns fans think that maybe—just maybe—the 2018 version of Freddie was back. With Jarvis Landry catching a short pitch/pass from Baker, Mayfield it then became a potential option play between Landry and Beckham. While Jarvis ended up keeping the ball and stepping out of bounds just before diving in the end zone at the two-yard line, watch how the cornerback — who could have easily tackled Landry on what would have been a short gain — just completely doesn’t go after the player with the ball and runs towards OBJ. It allowed Jarvis to run for another 25 yards, setting up yet another touchdown for Chubb.
While we can show you more examples, these three are both very clear and easy. OBJ’s presence alone — even if he’s not catching the football— not only makes things easier for Baker but makes it so that his teammates and other wideouts can get open and make plays. Even if Odell isn’t racking up the numbers on the stat sheet, he changes so much just by being on the field. It’s one of the many reasons why it’s so fun to have a true No. 1 wide receiver like OBJ on my favorite NFL team.
The thing that makes it even better is that even though some said that Beckham was angry due to the fact that he only had two receptions, he quickly shut down those rumors and reports late last week when he said that all he cares about is winning, not his individual numbers.
“We beat a very good team,” Beckham said. “Of course, any receiver in the National Football League, you can ask them, and you all know what we want to do. We want to catch touchdowns and we want to catch passes, but just drawing attention over here, I run a hitch and two people will jump on me and you hit (TE) Ricky (Seals-Jones) right up the seam for 70 yards.
“If teams are going to focus on that, it will be a long day for me, but we will come out with what we need. As I said, it is just about putting us in a position to make it to the playoffs. Stats are only stats, but the memories you have of going to the playoffs and winning championships, nothing is going to ever supersede that for me. I just want to get back to the playoffs. That is really it. I did not have my best game and it is still something I think about to this day so my only goal is to win the division, and it starts with Baltimore, it starts with the Bengals and it starts with the Steelers. If teams are going to do that, we will hang 40, and we will walk out of there with a win and get back to work next week.”
Remember when media members in New York and even some members of the Giants tried to say that OBJ is a cancer in the locker room and that he’s all about himself? Well, it’s amazing how that is obviously just not true. No. 13 has shown none of those traits or characteristics since the moment he became a Brown. Seems as though there are just some salty people that want to see OBJ fail. Amazing how that happens.
On Monday Night Football against the 49ers in San Francisco, OBJ will likely want more than just two receptions for 20 yards. What wide receiver wouldn’t want more than that, let alone WR1 on the Browns and one of the best in the NFL. Beckham performing well only makes things easier for both Mayfield, Kitchens calling plays, and the rest of the offense. With that said, the Dawg Pound has already witnessed that even if OBJ is pretty much held out of a game statistically due to the defense focusing on him, the Browns can still not only put up 40 points on the road but get a bunch of other players on the stat sheet while the defense continues to focus on No. 13. Beckham has already stated that he doesn’t care about his stats if the team wins the game. Just imagine when he does well and the Browns win. Talk about a win-win.