One of the biggest questions facing the Cleveland Browns between now and the start of the 2020 regular season is how new head coach Kevin Stefanski will utilize wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham’s first year in Cleveland wasn’t necessarily bad - he finished with 74 receptions for 1,035 yards - but it was not the highlight reel that many fans expected. A season-long core muscle injury, since surgically repaired, limited Beckham’s practice time, as did the weekly offensive malaise under former head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Odell said last season was a humbling experience.— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) February 3, 2020
We caught with @OBJ, who opened up about this past season, the slander from media, and Kobe's legacy: https://t.co/4Q2GaZKaoJ pic.twitter.com/OcDwoyuxBW
That is all the past now, and Beckham is excited about the new opportunities that Stefanski’s offense presents, as Beckham told complex.com:
“... with the new coach coming in, just seeing what he did with the Minnesota Vikings for a long time with (Adam) Thielen and (Stefon) Diggs. These are people who I’ve watched closely on their film, and just seeing the things that he did and meeting him and seeing where his mind’s at for Jarvis and myself of how this will all work out, I have a good feeling about it, you know?
“And I’m always optimistic and looking on the brighter side of things. And I’m hoping that it’s a tremendous season for us. We were so close last year, but yet so far away, and it shows you how being so close can land you from 10-6 to 6-10, you know? It’s really a game of inches. So it’s just little things we need to correct. I’m excited about the opportunity, excited to work on it.”
Beckham, who knows a thing or two about being under a media microscope, also had an interesting take about quarterback Baker Mayfield’s recent comments that last season was humbling:
“The thing is, people don’t get to where they’re at by not being who they were to get here. So when people say they need to fix me or they need to fix this person, I don’t believe in fixing anybody. Improving somebody is definitely more the word that I would say. I think myself as well had a slice of humble pie this year, because I was hurt all year. I couldn’t really say I was hurt. I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m having an excuse, but I really couldn’t do what I wanted. I just couldn’t move the way that I wanted to, so I think that’s why I’m more motivated now than ever.
“This is probably day nine or 10 after surgery and I’m just starting to move around and just mentally get ready for the process all over again, and just put my best foot forward. So I don’t think there’s really changing anybody, but I definitely think you’ll see a more focused, improved version of himself. Not what someone else wants him to be. And myself as well next year.”
The 2019 season did not go as well as expected for Beckham. Some of the problems were self-inflicted, some were not, but it was without doubt a rough season for both Beckham and the Browns.
But if Beckham can deliver on his promise of being a more focused and improved version of himself, and Stefanski can get the offense humming, then Beckham will not be the only one with a good feeling about what is to come for the Browns.