Almost everyone in the NFL has voiced their opinion on the talented, but emotionally explosive, Odell Beckham Jr. this week after the New York Giants wide receiver had a near meltdown during a game for a second straight week. But despite his team facing Beckham this week on Sunday Night Football, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy had no interest in the discussion.
“I don’t really have an opinion on it,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “There’s always a huge gap between perception and reality. I’m not really here to fill that gap. Emotion is a big part of the game of football. It’s important.”
Beckham has become known as much for his breath-taking catches as for his fragile psyche in his three seasons in the NFL. Though there have been incidents throughout that time, the past two weeks have increased the scrutiny on the former LSU star.
In Week 3 against the Washington Redskins, a camera caught a distraught Beckham hitting a kickers net with his helmet, which backfired when the metal structure fell and hit him in the head. Then on Monday, against the Minnesota Vikings, Beckham received an unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting and was nearly thrown out of the game for bumping an official. He finished the night with just 23 yards receiving, the lowest total of his career.
“We’re focused on the video,” McCarthy answered when asked if they take into account what Beckham’s mental state is. “What each players’ strengths are and how we feel they’re going to utilize them against us. Really focusing on our schemes. It’s an excellent receiver group. No doubt about it. They’re explosive. That’s what we’re focused on.”
And that’s where the Packers focus should be. With cornerback Sam Shields sidelined by a concussion the last two games, the No. 1 wide receiver for the other team has torn them up. First it was Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs going for 182 yards on nine catches in Week 2, which was followed by the Detroit Lions’ Marvin Jones grabbing six passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
With Shields out, the Packers first-round pick from a year ago, Damarious Randall, has been asked to step into that No. 1 cornerback role and it hasn’t been pretty, as he’s been targeted time and time again the last two games. So with a talent like Beckham coming to town, he, like McCarthy, had no interest in discussing anything other than the challenge he presents as a wide receiver.
“He’s a great, great receiver,” Randall said. “I don’t know about all the off the field and the emotional things you’re talking about. Just by me watching the film, he’s a great route runner. He’s a top five receiver in this league.”
That’s probably true, but the 23-year-old is also one of the league’s more combustible players. And while the Packers have several emotional players, chief among them defensive end Mike Daniels, there is a line when it comes to that type of stuff and you don’t want to cross it.
“We love the energy and the emotion and the passion out there,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “You just can’t let it affect your team in a negative way.”