Odell Beckham Jr. has played just one game for the Rams and already the critical hot takes are raining in. One particularly spicy one came from former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.
Appearing on 96.7 The Ticket in Dallas on Tuesday morning, Aikman blamed Beckham for some of Matthew Stafford’s struggles, including his first interception, and claimed that Stafford felt “pressured” to force the ball to Beckham.
Here’s a look at his comments, as transcribed by Mark Lane of Texans Wire.
Matthew Stafford throws an interception on the opening possession because he’s trying to get the ball down to OBJ. Whether he stopped on the route or not, he’s not going to complete that pass. There’s two defenders back there.
But I think Matthew now feels some of the pressure that maybe Baker Mayfield felt of, hey, we got to get this guy involved, or he’s in the game right now because he’s going to take this deep route and I’ve got to find a way to get this ball in his hands because that’s why he’s playing on this play. It’s not good, and it’s not good playing quarterback when you feel pressure to get the ball to one particular player. It just doesn’t work. So, I don’t know. Maybe they can pull themselves out of it and get it going. But that was a beatdown last night.
There’s no denying that the Rams suffered a beatdown against the 49ers, but Aikman is reading far too much into Beckham’s debut and his chemistry with Stafford.
The play that Aikman referenced wasn’t a good one from either player by any means. Beckham probably ran the wrong route. Stafford definitely shouldn’t have thrown the ball into double coverage.
That said, Stafford had more than four full seconds to scan the field on that play. He ended up heaving the ball to Beckham because, in all likelihood, he didn’t see anyone else open. It didn’t seem like Stafford was consciously focusing on Beckham and only Beckham during that play; he clearly looked in the way of his checkdown, Darrell Henderson, twice. Henderson was covered.
Stafford had to make a decision. He went deep to Beckham and it didn’t pay off.
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Stafford may have forced that throw, but the point is that he wasn’t forcing it specifically to Beckham on that play or during the rest of the game. Stafford targeted Beckham three times during the receiver’s 15 snaps. That’s hardly forcing him the ball, especially when you break down the targets that he saw in addition to the interception.
Beckham’s first target came on the first play of the game. He ran a quick 5-yard route, stopped and Stafford got him the ball. He was open on the play.
On his final target, Beckham cleanly beat Josh Norman on a comeback route. He quickly turned around and separated from Norman to get his second catch of the day.
That was the final time Beckham saw the ball. He wasn’t targeted after the early stages of the second quarter and spent much of the second half on the sidelines. Overall, he played just 27 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.
This isn’t the situation that Beckham faced with the Browns. He and Baker Mayfield never clicked in three years. Beckham and Stafford have been given just one game to get in sync.
It’s also worth noting that Stafford was trying to navigate that game without his No. 2 receiver, Robert Woods, who suffered a torn ACL at practice on Friday. So, perhaps he was trying to foster an early connection with Beckham so that Beckham can help to replace Woods’ production.
And also, Beckham probably only saw action in this game because of Woods’ injury. After all, he had been with the Rams for just a few days before their “Monday Night Football” game.
Either way, it’s far too early to say that Stafford faces pressure to get Beckham the ball. They’re just getting to know each other and are trying to quickly build some chemistry.
The Rams have a bye in Week 11, so Beckham can focus on getting in sync with Stafford ahead of the team’s next game. If there are issues at that point, then maybe we can start to worry.
But doing so after Beckham played 15 snaps four days after joining the Rams is beyond premature.