Eli Manning has never really had to deal with a wide receiver. From Victor Cruz to Steve Smith to Sterling Shepard, the Giants have had fairly well-behaved receivers during the Manning era. Even Plaxico Burress typically kept his composure.
“Plax was actually a great teammate,” said Tiki Barber, who played with Burress from 2005-06. “He did a couple of dumb things, but he was actually an unbelievable teammate. There was no issue with him. Remember he had all that baggage coming from Pittsburgh. We had no issue with them. He wound up shooting himself and ruining their ’08 season, but other than that, he was fantastic.”
Odell Beckham Jr., however, is not. He sulks, he whines, he acts like a 5-year-old during games. As a result, Brandon Tierney believes it’s up to Eli Manning to nip these antics in the bud.
“It’s not his personality, and Eli wouldn’t do it, he said. “The troubling thing is who then would?”
The quarterback, Tierney said. A quarterback has to take control of the huddle.
“But (Beckham is) not disruptive in the huddle,” Barber said. “It’s not the huddle thing. It has nothing to do with his interaction with Eli. It’s his interaction with those who consume him. We have issues with it. The refs have issues with it. It’s the book on him now. I honestly believe defensive back coaches or defensive coordinators for future Giants opponents are saying, ‘You can get in this kid’s head. You want to throw him off? You can get in his head.’ Until he stops reacting and just goes and plays . . . people are going to keep bringing this stuff up.”
But doesn’t – or shouldn’t – Manning have the gumption or presence to corral his best receiver?
“I don’t think Eli is (the right guy to do it),” Barber said. “The way that he functions, the way that his mind is, he’s consumed about what’s next. Next play, next play. So all of that extra-curricular stuff doesn’t matter.”
In fact, Barber believes that Manning doesn’t even notice Beckham’s antics as they happen.
“I don’t,” Barber said. “I honestly don’t. BT, I’m telling you, there’d be times when I’m blocking on the back side, something happens, Amani Toomer catches a pass and starts jawing – I don’t see that. I have no idea. I have a job to do. Eli calls a play, executes a play, his immediate thought is, ‘Did we get a first down?’ (His) mind is on the sideline getting the next play. He can’t be aware of it, and honestly, it’s not his job to be aware of it. That criticism that we’re talking about with controlling and corralling Odell Beckham last year against the Panthers, that was all on Tom Coughlin. That was Coughlin’s job. . . . If Ben McAdoo is calling the plays, he’s probably not even thinking about this as it’s happening in real time. He’s more involved than most head coaches. You can criticize him, but you got to understand what his role is with his team right now: it’s to call plays that put you in a winning position, not necessarily to have to rein in a guy like Odell Beckham Jr.”
Barber said that Manning has about 25 seconds to look to the sideline, get a play, disseminate the play, get his guys to the line, analyze a defense, potentially call an audible and then hike the ball.
There isn’t a whole lot of time to babysit.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Barber said. “I’m just telling you. Not in real time. No chance. There’s just no way you can do it. Should he do it on the sideline? Yeah, and he did. Two games ago, he pulled Odell Beckham aside when he’s trying to get in a fist-fight with a kicking net. He pulled him aside and we saw it. He did what he’s supposed to do. You can’t do that in real time during a game. It’s impossible.”