How Will Odell Beckham Jr.’s Role Change Under HC Pat Shurmur?

The New York Giants hired former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to take over their vacant head coaching position soon after the 2017 season. The  hire of Shurmur was filled with speculation and worry, but the idea has developed nicely in the heads of Giants fans and players alike.

The primary questions that arose after the hiring of Shurmur were: Will Eli Manning be the quarterback in 2018? And how will Odell Beckham Jr.’s role change in the new offense?

For this example, we will take a look at the Vikings’ receivers to analyze how Beckham Jr. will see his role expand and develop in 2018.

Let’s take Adam Thielen for example — In 2016, the Viking’s receiver racked up 969 yards and five touchdowns. Fast forward to 2017, Thielen managed 1276 yards (with Stefan Diggs healthy) and four touchdowns, all with backup quarterback, Case Keenum.

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A majority of the offensive success the Vikings enjoyed came by the arm of Keenum, who subsequently lost his most lethal weapon in Dalvin Cook early on in the season. Keenum saw his completion percentage jump from 60.9 with the Rams in 2016 to 67.9 with the Vikings. This can be derived from the amount of high-quality throws Keenum made, and this will also translate to the Giants and Eli Manning as well. Consider this: Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Vs. undrafted quarterback… Who has more potential?

Ultimately, if Manning improves, Beckham Jr. will benefit too. While Thielen and Beckham are not easily compared, their skills can be analyzed to realize how Shurmur extracted/can extract their full potential.

Let’s take a look at this clip for a moment. Thielen is lined up on the exterior with man-coverage. OBJ will enjoy man-coverage more frequently with the addition of Saquon Barkley and a developing Evan Engram. The Vikings had Latavius Murray, Cook, and Stefan Diggs to complement Thielen. Having a broad range of weapons forces the defense to commit to stopping the run and to leave the offenses receivers in man-coverage.

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Beckham is one of the league’s best route-runners and quickest from the line of scrimmage. His ability to sell his body one way and take off past the cornerback is nearly unparalleled. That’s also Thielen’s skill, and Shurmur noticed that.

This clip shows Thielen’s best routes of the 2017 season, and all are eerily similar in relation to Beckham’s strengths.

The biggest difference will be the use of the quarterback, since Keenum is far more mobile than Manning. Expect to see a lot of lateral movement from Beckham off the line of scrimmage — wide receiver screens, comeback routes (play-action), slant routes, and the occasional deep post. I would also anticipate a heavy dosage of fade routes in the endzone to Beckham — This is one of Manning’s strengths.