CLEVELAND — Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. arrived to the Cleveland Browns with a reputation for being difficult to handle and a problem within the locker room that forced the New York Giants to trade him for a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and safety Jabrill Peppers during the offseason.
Although Beckham Jr. had that reputation, the Browns have found him to be the kind of player who is passionate about his craft, works to sharpen his skills at practice and wants to produce on game day so that his team can enjoy a victory.
“I kind of addressed it a few weeks ago about how he wants to be the solution to helping us win, and he really just wants to win when it comes to it,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said.
“Anytime you are losing, it is frustrating and it is not fun. He wants to help out in any way he can, so we have to try and find ways to get him the ball. There have been a few things that are off here and there or else, we would have some bigger plays and a lot more connections.”
In 12 games this season, his first with the Browns, Beckham Jr. has converted his 57 receptions into 805 yards, a 14.1 yards-per catch average, with a long play of 89 yards and two touchdowns. Also, Beckham Jr. has rushed for 10 yards on three carries.
Beckham Jr. is second only to his close friend and former Louisiana State University teammate, Jarvis Landry, on the Browns in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Beckham Jr. is tied for the best yards-per-reception average among wide receivers and has the team’s longest scrimmage play of the season, regardless of position.
“I don’t judge anybody on what anybody else does,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I like to see them for myself, and Odell’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been no problem at all. Different situations are different for different people. Odell’s been a good teammate. He’s been good.”
Although versatile enough to score from any position on the field, most of Beckham Jr.’s receptions have come in long yardage situations, as 38 of his 57 catches have needed 10 or more yards to secure a first down. Thirty-one of his receptions have come between the Browns’ 21-yard line and midfield.
When the Browns have gotten into the red zone, Beckham Jr. has been targeted with only seven passes and turned one of those into catches, and his two touchdowns have come from 89 and 35 yards out.
As the regular season winds down and with the Browns in need of victories to remain in the conversation for a wildcard spot in the postseason, the coaches want to see Beckham Jr. get more looks on more frequent trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
“We try to get our players the ball when we can, and there’s a lot of things that dictate that,” Kitchens said. “Of course, we want more targets for Odell in the red zone. We want more successful targets with all of our guys.”