The LA Rams signed up free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. before Week 11, had two days to integrate him into some of the offensive plays in time to face the San Francisco 49ers, and after that loss, have already faced the instant designation to adding him to this team a ‘bust’. Others cite the Rams loss as a direct result of signing that ‘locker room cancer,’ to the team’s roster.
That’s pretty funny. It’s also a bit disappointing.
Forming permanent conclusions over the fit of Odell Beckham Jr. within the LA Rams offensive system cannot and should not be attempted after two practices and one game. The Rams threw to the guy three times in Week 12. Twice for completions. One was an ill-thrown long pass that resulted in an interception. Bust? Cancer? Hardly.
Still, there is no shame in foolish proclamations it seems. After all, you only get likes on social media by being active, whether by raging or by sharing thought-provoking insights. Perhaps it’s best not to be so quick to rage?
"“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” – Mrs. Goose, Her Book by Maurice Switzer."
Did anyone notice how veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson turned four targets into three receptions, 102 yards, and a touchdown for the Raiders win over the Dallas Cowboys? In three games, Jackson has caught four of five passes for 140 yards and a touchdown with his new team, the Las Vegas Raiders. But much more importantly, the Cowboys’ defense never recovered. Jackson forced their defense to adjust dramatically.
Good players impact games in many ways
Good players force defenses to do things that they do not want to do. That does not mean that Odell Beckham Jr. will just slide into the LA Rams playbook and take over on all plays originally designed for DeSean Jackson. OBJ is not DJac. Nor is DJac OBJ.
Odell Beckham Jr. has played in the NFL for eight seasons. In five of those seasons, he has over 1000 receiving yards. In two other seasons, he’d played less than half of the season. In the final season? He is playing a split season: First with the Cleveland Browns and now with the LA Rams. Will he provide an instant and dramatic boost to the LA Rams offense? I wouldn’t count on it. But he could be a huge difference-maker.
Will OBJ usurp the other receivers on the roster? Probably not. The Rams will still make Cooper Kupp the primary target on pass plays. The team will likely try to stretch the field with Van Jefferson. And the team will look to move the chains with young receivers Ben Skowronek and or J.J. Koski. So what’s left?
TB Bucs added Antonio Brown in a similar fashion
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Antonio Brown to their roster, he was joining an accomplished group of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But what Brown did was add one more weapon to the Bucs arsenal, a weapon that veteran quarterback Tom Brady used in impeccable fashion. When Brown got hot late in the season, so did the Bucs.
The LA Rams seem to be molding their 2021 efforts from the methods used by the Buccaneers a year ago. The Rams acquired a veteran quarterback to start the season. Midway through the season, the Rams added a high ceiling wide receiver that some have considered difficult to work with.
Perhaps most importantly, the Rams intend to work OBJ into their offense in a manner, not unlike the methods used by the Bucs to integrate AB into their offense. If the parallels hold true, then the Rams will certainly target OBJ often in Week 12, perhaps as often as throwing his way 10 times. But that is just the first phase of a process that will last all season and perhaps into the NFL Playoffs.
Odell Beckham Jr. has not had a chance to show how effective he may be for the LA Rams. But diagnosing each play won’t lead anyone to the correct answer. At least not with only two days of practice to support that performance.
Good players force defenses to do things that they do not want to do. The only way to make defenses respect what Odell Beckham Jr. can do in the LA Rams offense is to show them. Then, the Rams must also know when to redirect plays to other players as well. It’s that second part that has caused the Rams trouble so far this season.