On the surface, Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seems like a changed man. Instead of clamoring for attention, he’s heaping it on a teammate who needs 266 receiving yards in two games to become the first player in NFL history to get 2,000 for a season.
At a deeper level, OBJ is still OBJ. (And that’s not a bad thing. More on this below.)
“I’m sure it might be more fun for me than him,” Beckham told reporters about Kupp’s quest for 2,000. “He’s counting, but it’s way in the back of his head. You know what I mean? You know you’re on the brink and I know that it’s something that he wants to achieve, and I’ll be that subtle reminder — the one in his corner, like, ‘Hey, 266, let’s go.’ And like I say, we’re witnessing greatness. So, [I’m] looking forward to it, continue to find ways to win these games, play complete team complementary football.”
Beckham said that he’s “witnessing history and greatness,” but it’s clear that he intends (starting in 2022) to be the one chasing history and displaying greatness.
“I’m a competitor, but like I say, I came late to the party,” Beckham said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be the one — I’m not, like I said, like I tell you, I’m not getting 10 to 15 targets each and every game, and so for me, it’s about — I just was having this conversation — finding ways to be locked in knowing that you’re not specifically the guy, but I am going to be a threat and the option each and every play. And finding a way to stay within the game, play the game within the game and just win each and every route and run the route as if the ball is coming because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just funny all of the backlash that I get about the type of person I am and this and that. I think you just see me in an atmosphere where success is around. And like I say, these people are on pace for history. I want to watch them break it. You know, I told him, I want him to get 2K yards so I can come and break your record. That’s how it happens. Records are meant to be broken, and like I say, I think we’re just witnessing something very, very special. I’m happy to be here firsthand.”
There it is, tucked in the middle. The acknowledgement from Beckham that he wants Kupp to set a new single-season receiving yardage record so that Beckham can then break it. And that’s fine. He should want that for himself. The challenge will be finding a place where he becomes the focal point of the offense, in the same way that Kupp is that guy with the Rams.
Beckham is definitely paying attention to what Kupp does.
“The work ethic, just the way he goes about it, the attention to detail,” Beckham said, “all of those things add up and you see the results from what he’s having. Along with being an actual phenomenal talent and football player and athlete and all those things, it’s the attention to detail for me. Just the very small things that happen in the game, which we say it’s a game of inches, he’s just right on top of them.”
Beckham will be a free agent in March, and he’s done enough in his limited time with the Rams to justify someone pursuing him with the possibility of Beckham becoming a No. 1 receiver again. Football is more fun and exciting when Beckham is performing at a high level. Wherever he lands next year, his experience in 2021 will position him to be more like the guy he was earlier in his career. Perhaps he’ll be even better.