As we speak, the once-mighty Odell Beckham, Jr. is being spoon-fed routes as if he were a fucking child. Coach O’Shea has given him a set of routes to practice. Coach Van Pelt said that OBJ was doing a good job drilling those routes during mini-camp. And even Baker Mayfield was pointing out flaws in OBJ’s route-running.
This is pretty amazing because OBJ was renowned for his technical route-running when he played for the Giants. But at some point, OBJ switched to being a “creative” route-runner. Maybe it was the $95 million contract that the Giants gave him in 2018 that went to his head. That would explain why Eli Manning was able to run up huge stats with OBJ, but Baker Mayfield can’t make head-or-tails of him.
But now the Browns are cracking down. They don’t want any more “creative” nonsense. They want professional-quality, technical route-running. They want OBJ to be where he is supposed to be so that Baker can fucking find him.
What took so long? I think that, before the 2020 season, the franchise looked at OBJ as a potential savior, who would, one day, when he was finally 100% healthy, score 5 touchdowns a game and lead the team to the Super Bowl. So, they were loath to question him.
But after the 2020 season when the Browns ran deep into the playoffs without OBJ, they finally snapped out of OBJ’s spell. They finally saw that the hype was just that: hype. They finally saw that they could do just fine with Rashard Higgins starting. And they realized that when Baker has receivers who can run precise routes, he suddenly transforms into an elite QB.
And having an elite QB is really, really nice. There are zero NFL teams with elite QBs that want to give them up. Not only that, but the new administration of Berry/Stefanski/Van Pelt can take credit for Baker’s renaissance – even though they were the recipients of pure, dumb luck. All it took for Baker to shine was for OBJ to leave the field.
So, keeping your prize pony prancing pretty is very simple: make OBJ run precise routes that Baker can work with, or kick OBJ to the curb. And that is exactly what Coach O’Shea has told OBJ.
And so, OBJ’s gigantic ego has been pounded with a Gallagher-esque Sledge-O-Matic, and I’m sure that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for him. Make no mistake, OBJ has hit rock bottom.
Now the question is: will he take the coaching and rise from the ashes? Will he give up his egotistical, creative route-running and finally run professional-quality routes?
At this point in time, I think the answer to that question is: maybe. OBJ appears to be taking the coaching and trying to run QB-friendly routes. However, he will not be putting in the hundreds and thousands of practice reps with Baker to develop on-field chemistry. When asked about it last week, OBJ said:
“So, whenever that is, week 1, week 17, I don’t know. Whenever we’re ready we’ll be ready.”
In other words, he won’t be practicing, again, this year because he will be rehabbing his knee until at least week 1. Now look at what Baker said last week:
“We have a lot of great players, and this isn’t taking anything away from them because I love these guys. But it doesn’t matter who we have, if we don’t have chemistry and we don’t do our jobs, none of it matters.”
Obviously, he had OBJ in mind when he said that. Who else could it have possibly been?
This type of talk from Baker is a little bit alarming, but what the Browns are asking OBJ to do is very reasonable. They just want him to run routes as specified in the playbook. Hardly an onerous request. The Browns want Technical OBJ, not Creative OBJ.
Will they get him? I certainly hope so, because conflict with OBJ is not just conflict with a single player, but with a gigantic cult of personality. Imagine if OBJ were benched and Higgins became the #2 WR; people’s heads would explode. A divorce from OBJ would likely be a traumatic event that could potentially distract the team. If it has to be done, then it has to be done, but it could get ugly indeed.
And the Cleveland “sports” media isn’t even discussing the possibility, no doubt because, with notable exceptions, they are all OBJ fanbois. As a consequence:
You heard it here first: war is brewing between the Browns and OBJ.
In other news; No, You Can’t Have Kareem Hunt.
People are talking about how the Los Angeles Rams might want to trade some draft picks for Kareem Hunt. Is there anything more terrifying for a Browns fan than seeing Kareem line-up on the other side of the ball? When Kareem was running roughshod over the Browns during their 2018 game against the Chiefs, I remember thinking: “This isn’t fair; how are we supposed to stop this guy?” I don’t ever want to experience that feeling of helplessness again. That’s for Steelers, Ravens, and Chiefs fans now.
Also, in other news: People are all worried about the Browns defense gelling, what with all the new players. But anybody who saw Coach Woods in action last year knows not to worry. He is a magician when it comes to incorporating new players into his defense. In reality, the gelling problem the Browns have is OBJ, who may simply refuse the gel.
And finally, people are saying that LB Mack Wilson might not be able to make the team this year. But I hope the Browns don’t forget that it was Wilson who delivered justice for the highly illegal murder attempt on Rashard Higgins during the Chiefs game. The refs didn’t flag Daniel Sorensen so Mack Wilson took matters into his own hands and knocked out Patrick Mahomes. The refs didn’t flag Wilson, probably because it was their way of saying sorry for the Higgins call. But think about what Wilson did there. He was thinking something like: I need to avenge Hig, and then a few minutes later he did exactly that. Sometimes the players have to balance the scales of justice, and Wilson is a guy with the raw ability to do that.