The Giants seem to have figured out how to get Odell Beckham Jr. on the field, practicing him once a week with his sore hamstring so he can be available for games. They still have to figure out how to get him the ball when defenses are denying it, though. It's a conundrum that may not have a direct answer.
That was clear Monday night when Beckham was targeted only once in the second half of a lopsided loss to the Eagles. All seven of his team-high catches for a team-high 61 yards came in the first half.
"We want to target Odell as much as possible,'' offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "He's a playmaker, a heck of a player in this league. We definitely don't want him to disappear in the second half.''
And yet . . . poof! As the Giants tried to chip away at the Eagles' lead, left tackle Ereck Flowers wound up having more second-half receptions than the Pro Bowl receiver (a late pass ricocheted off the helmet of Marshall Newhouse into Flowers' hands).
There may not be any straightforward answers to the situation. Eli Manning said it's incumbent on the other receivers to make plays when Beckham is double-covered.
"I don't think it's the theme of our offense, 'Hey, how many times can we get ball to Odell?' '' Manning said. "We've got other guys who have to win and just read the coverages and make good decisions and go where the defense is telling you to go with the ball.''
Tom Coughlin agreed.
"If the coverage is strictly dealing with 13, then people have to be able to come through for us,'' he said. "That's what we're counting on.''
That's true, but clearly Beckham is the team's best weapon, and it seems shortsighted to allow a defense to dictate how the Giants use him. Shouldn't talent trump coverage?
"It can, it certainly can,'' Coughlin said. "Even the other day, it wasn't something that couldn't have been dealt with on a one-on-one concept. There was a guy over the top, but underneath he was able to work.''
McAdoo said he keeps track of who is catching the ball and who is carrying it throughout a game. He said he doesn't have a set number of touches in mind for each player, but rather it is a function of the play distribution and how the game unfolds.
Still, McAdoo, who last year said he learned he needs to rely more on players than plays when things are getting tight in games, said he'd like to get Beckham more involved. Everyone would.
"[But] you never want to force it,'' McAdoo said. "That's how turnovers happen.''
So what are the Giants to do? Other teams are sure to dog Beckham on the field, whether it be in true double-teams or simply with a safety over him.
At least the guy who you'd think would be most upset by the lack of targets is taking it in stride. Beckham said if his role in the offense allows others to make plays, he'd enjoy that. In fact, he said he'd "love it.''
"Of course you want to get the ball, everybody wants to have the ball in their hands and wants to make plays for this team,'' Beckham said. "It's a satisfying feeling knowing you did your job and everybody else did their job and the man with the ball in his hands is doing his job. We all have to play together, we all have to make plays.''
Some more than others if the Giants want their offense to function properly.