After two incredible seasons in the NFL, Odell Beckham hit a wall during the first four weeks of his third year -- both in terms of his production and his personal enjoyment.
According to Beckham, who has failed to reach the end zone so far, he's not having fun playing football.
"Football is my sanctuary," Beckham told ESPN's Anita Marks. "It's where I go to escape. It's where I'm most happy. I'm not having fun anymore."
Here's some more from that interview, via ESPN.com:
Beckham cited last season's matchup with Norman in his interview with Marks, saying that it "tarnished" his image and blaming the media for continuing to focus on his on-field conduct. He also said that the intense coverage of his latest matchup with Norman and the Redskins was circulated on social media, causing other Giants players to see it and focus on their teammate's mental state.
Beckham also complained about his role in the offense:
When asked about potentially getting more involved in making offensive adjustments on the sideline, Beckham expressed more frustration to Marks.
"What I'm communicating, we're not doing," he said. "I'm not getting the opportunities to contribute, and that's frustrating to me."
So, at this point, it's definitely necessary to point out that Beckham once tweeted about what he would do if he stopped having fun. Presented without comment:
The moment I stop havin fun wit it ill be done wit it... pic.twitter.com/XN3QTT5Zfm— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) April 14, 2016
It's not hard to see why Beckham's frustrated. For one, he has caught only 22 passes for 303 yards this season. He has scored zero touchdowns after scoring 25 in his first two seasons, none of which included a full 16-game workload. The Giants have also dropped back-to-back games after jumping out to a 2-0 record and looking like the clear front-runners in the NFC East. Now, they're behind the Eagles and Cowboys, and tied with the Redskins.
And Beckham has had a rough go outside of his disappointing numbers. His own coach, Ben McAdoo, called him a distraction for his mini sideline meltdown during the Giants' loss to the Redskins a week ago. During the Giants' Monday night loss to the Vikings, he drew a totally unnecessary flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Sure, he didn't do much to deserve the penalty, but on the very next play, he got in another tussle.
After the game, Beckham had this to say, via the New York Daily News.
"There's never an explanation [from the officials]," Beckham said. "It's always it's just my fault. That's all I look at it as, it's my fault. I just have to understand if I sneeze the wrong way it'll be a flag, it'll be a fine. If I tie my shoe the wrong way it might be a fine or a flag."
As CBS Sports' Will Brinson wrote, "At this point there's a pretty clear formula for playing against Beckham. Get physical, get in his head and get him to lose his cool." Brinson's right. And that's probably why Beckham's quarterback, Eli Manning, called him out.
"He's got to be aware people are looking for him. He's got to play smart," Manning said. "He can't afford to do anything they'll call. He's kind of brought that upon himself, so he's got to realize that."
So clearly, Beckham is watched closely by officials. Clearly, Beckham is easily frustrated. And, clearly, he's not off to the kind of start that most expected.
But it's important to remember that Beckham has 12 more games to change the narrative. Once he starts producing on the field again -- he will, because he's still Odell Beckham -- the other stuff will slink away. No coach is going to care if a player is a "distraction" if that player is also scoring touchdowns. Opposing teams, in theory, shouldn't be able to frustrate Beckham if he's coming down with his classic one-handed grabs.
In the end, it comes down to his production on the field. This week, Beckham gets a Packers defense that is ranked 10th in DVOA after three weeks and is coming off a bye.
And oh yeah, the game will be played in primetime. So, regardless of how Beckham actually performs, get ready for some fireworks.