The start of Odell Beckham Jr.’s first season with the Ravens hasn’t gone as the veteran wideout expected.
As a team, the Ravens are 6-2 and boast perhaps the NFL’s best defense and an offense that’s scored 69 points over the past two games. However, that success has come without the splash Beckham is known for making.
“Obviously not where I want to be, but when I signed here I said I wanted to come here and win a Super Bowl and win,” Beckham said Thursday. “We’re 6-2 and on the way to that. Just got to keep going, it’s a long season.”
In six games — half of which he missed some time with injury — Beckham has just 14 catches for 162 yards with zero touchdowns. That would put Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who turns 31 on Sunday, on a 17-game pace for 39 catches for 459 yards — numbers that are dwarfed by those he put up during his heyday with the New York Giants and even his tumultuous seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
Before joining the Ravens on a one-year, $15 million deal, his 17-game average was 94 receptions for 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns. While his All-Pro seasons from 2014 to 2016 are ballooning those numbers, his current pace is still only half what it was with the Browns from 2019 to 2021 and his brief stint with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. Beckham missed the 2022 season after tearing his left ACL again in Super Bowl LVI.
“I didn’t come here with the expectations that I’d be going for 2,000 yards,” Beckham said. “We’re trying to win a Super Bowl, so it is what it is at this point. It’s just walking that fine line of being grateful to be back on the field but definitely not being content with where I’m at or how I feel internally about what’s going on.”
Two weeks ago, Beckham had his best game as a Raven, catching five passes for 49 yards in Baltimore’s 38-6 rout of the Detroit Lions. He followed that up with a catchless outing versus the Arizona Cardinals, although he drew three penalties that aided the offense.
The only other time in Beckham’s nine-year career that he ended a game without a catch was in October 2020 with the Browns when he tore the ACL in his left knee for the first time.
“Not really,” he said when asked if the penalties, one of which came in the end zone and led to Beckham slamming his helmet on the sideline, were consolation for the goose egg. “I wish the numbers went to the stats, but they don’t.”
Beckham’s start with the Ravens was promising as he stood out during training camp, which ended with general manager Eric DeCosta saying he “exceeded my expectations.” Those positive vibes quickly soured, though, as his return to the field in September was hampered by an ankle injury that caused him to exit the second game early and miss Weeks 3 and 4. After playing 92% of the offense’s snaps in Week 1, he’s yet to top 60% since and has been playing about the same amount as fellow wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor.
Beckham hoped he would burst onto the scene in Baltimore and admitted it’s been “tough” to have a slow start to the season.
“When you go out there and you don’t feel like you’re 100[%], it’s very hard with things that are going on just to be who I know I am,” he said.
At the same time, though, Beckham is far from the only new part of the Ravens’ offense. After four years with Greg Roman as offensive coordinator in Baltimore, the Todd Monken experience is nearing the halfway point of its initial campaign. The Ravens rank seventh in points per game (25.3) but have yet to see a player total 100 receiving yards in a game.
“I think people tend to forget a new coordinator comes in, a new offense, new players — everything is all new,” Beckham said. “It’s kind of, like, trial and error early on in the season, and it’s been a great trial and error for us. I still think that there’s only been a few games where we’ve really put it all together.”
Monken said incorporating Beckham into the offense is “always going to be a work in progress,” especially because of the amount of practice and game time the wideout has missed.
“You’re constantly trying to work that chemistry,” Monken said.
“We want to get everyone more involved,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “It’s not going to be every player every game. The more we can get them showing up different games, I think it’s just going to make everyone better.”
Quarterback Lamar Jackson said Wednesday he’s less focused on who’s getting the ball than he is on lighting up the scoreboard.
“I’m going through the progression and the guy open, he going to get the ball,” Jackson said. “Other than that, I’m not trying to force anything.”
Beckham recognizes he’s not the only one who is hoping for more touches.
Bateman, a first-round draft pick in 2021, also has just 14 catches without a score on the season, and Agholor, a fellow veteran in his first season with the Ravens, was also blanked Sunday in Arizona. Rookie Zay Flowers leads the team with 44 catches for 461 yards, while tight end Mark Andrews (32 catches for 397 yards) remains one of Jackson’s favorite targets.
“There’s only one football,” Beckham said. “There’s seven, eight guys that are looking to get it. We’re all hungry and we’re all happy for each other when the next man gets it.”
Despite the slow start, Beckham and Jackson both believe the former superstar is due for a long-awaited breakout.
“He’s going to get on the scoreboard,” Jackson said. “I believe it’s happening fast. It’s going to come.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Brian Wacker contributed to this article.