Did Odell Beckham, Jr. Take a Dive in Cleveland?

During the Super Bowl, the NFL decided to rewrite the history of OBJ’s time in Cleveland. The announcers painted OBJ as being beaten like a red-headed step child, and held prisoner in a garret in Berea. That savage social-media attack on his quarterback, Baker Mayfield, which OBJ used to force his way out? Never happened. The favorable contract adjustments gifted to him by the Browns? Never happened.

So, as long as we are re-litigating this subject, lets talk about that mysterious lack of chemistry between OBJ and Baker. We have hard statistical evidence that a healthy, two-armed Baker played at an elite level when OBJ was off the field. And when OBJ was on the field, Baker played like a bottom-tier QB, if that. This fact is not in dispute. So, what caused it?

Aside from OBJ, Baker appears to be a pretty normal QB when it comes to chemistry. Once he plays with a receiver for a while, he begins to develop a chemistry with them; some stronger than others. The chemistry he has with Rashard Higgins is literally magical. It is very strong with Jarvis Landry, strong with David Njoku, and Kareem Hunt. And not quite so good with Austin Hooper. So, why was it so hideous with OBJ?

Well, we know that OBJ always hated Cleveland and was scheming to escape from the get-go. So, it makes sense that he would take a dive if he thought it would get him out. But what would that look like? Well, what if he ran his routes just a little bit off such that on timing throws, Baker’s ball would arrive just a little bit short, or long, or high, or low. To the untrained eye, it would look like Baker was the one at fault. Even more so, some people have claimed that OBJ was straight-up freelancing routes.

And it wasn’t just analysts saying this. In fact, during the 2021 off-season, the Browns coaching staff felt the need to address the situation by retooling OBJ’s routes. Would they have done that if they had not detected a problem? Hell no. Here is what Coach Chad O’Shea said during a radio interview in May 2021:

“I think the one thing that’s been great for him to see is we’ve gone through a lot of the film this off-season already with Odell and showed him the things that he can be a part of offensively for us and be a productive player, and be a big part of our offense that we now have evidence of on film that we didn’t have last year…hey, this is where you’re going to be, this is how you’re going to run the route, and this is how you’re going to win the route. That’s been something that’s been very good for him, spending time the last several weeks, to be able to go through that process and to envision himself in how he can be a big part of this offense.”

This is startling because OBJ is a renowned master route-runner. The idea of having to micromanage him like this is extraordinary. Even though the Browns were justified in trying to fix a blatant problem, I think this is what triggered OBJ’s demand to be traded.

The bottom line is that OBJ is, and has always been, a master route runner. The only way he would be running bad routes is if he were doing it deliberately to achieve a wider goal: escaping from the hinterlands of Cleveland, and returning to the big-city bright lights. He had the means and the motive. And he wasn’t shy about throwing Baker under the bus with a savage social-media attack.

This theory explains not only the lack of chemistry with Baker, but also OBJ’s instant chemistry with Matthew Stafford. The Browns coaches couldn’t fix OBJ because he wasn’t broken. Rather, OBJ was malicious. The only thing the Browns can be faulted for is keeping him around for so long. Yes, OBJ had an onerous contract, but the damage suffered by the team was not worth it.

Note to Baker: if you feel the need to tackle somebody again, don’t use your arms! Those are your money-makers! Watch how Patrick Mahomes tackles Bengal’s DT B.J. Hill while also protecting his arms. I’m sure you know this technique, but please try to implement it going forward:

Note: Mary Kay Cabot has intensified her psychotic jihad against Baker Mayfield. She is now actively trying to foment discord among Browns players. Listen to the last ten minutes of her February 15th podcast titled: “Who is to blame for Odell Beckham, Jr. not working in Cleveland?” Warning: if you are a Browns fan, this will turn your stomach.