EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For more than a year, the biggest criticism about the Giants' struggling offense has been that it's become painfully predictable.
A few of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers basically confirmed that to Odell Beckham, Jr. on Sunday afternoon.
Beckham said he talked with Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves after the Giants' latest loss, a 25-23 heartbreaker in Tampa, and they revealed their secret to success against the Giants.
"They were like, 'We know you're running a certain route," Beckham said on Wednesday.
The Bucs' coverage on Beckham -- and a few of his own drops, which he indicated were caused by the defense being on to his routes -- limited him to just seven catches (for 90 yards) on 15 targets. The Giants did have a season-high 379 yards, but their offense -- which ranks 30th in scoring with just 15 points per game -- struggled and stalled on several key drives.
That's a trend that dates back to the beginning of last season, when Ben McAdoo first took over the dual roles of head coach and chief play-caller. The Giants offense ranked 25th and averaged just 19.4 points and 330.7 yards per game last season, and through four games this season, it's even worse.
And Beckham didn't seem surprised at all that an opponent told him the Giants offense is easy to figure to out.
"I mean, they study film," Beckham said. "I was talking to Hargreaves after the game and he was just like, 'You know, we know a lot of what you're doing.' But it still just comes to the point where you have to trust it."
The Giants have little choice but to trust it because there has been no indication that McAdoo plans to give up the play-calling or make wholesale changes to his scheme. There are definite differences from last year, including more personnel groups and formations (last year they were in '11 personnel' with three receivers more than 90 percent of the time). And two weeks ago McAdoo begun running a hurry-up offense for most of the game in the hopes of minimizing the problems on the offensive line.
But whether it's ego, stubbornness, or just the fact that it would be impractical during the season, big changes aren't likely coming. So if defenses do know what's coming, that's going to be the case all year.
"It's the system. It's our offense," Beckham said. "We were 11-5 last year and we were running the same thing. So is it really this or are we just not executing right? And I don't think we're executing the way that we can, at a higher level. It wasn't a problem last year when we were winning games. So, it's just a matter of execution, really."
Of course, it was a problem last year -- a huge problem. They won 11 games mostly in spite of the offense and thanks to a defense that ranked in the Top 10 and was one of the best in the NFL at the end of the year.
And it's a problem again now -- even for Beckham, who blamed his drop issues not on his injured finger, but on him trying to do too much in the face of a defense that seemed to know exactly where he was going to be.
"It was just me putting extra onto a route, just trying to create more space," Beckham said. "I kind of have to trust myself more in the sense that when I make my break, not everybody is going to be able to come out and close that little gap. So, there's a split second where you're like, 'Oh, they're coming on your back.'"
How can he combat that feeling and still beat a defense that seems to have the advantage, especially knowing that the routes he's running are not likely to dramatically change?
"Be better than them," Beckham said. "You know I'm running a slant. Beat me on a slant. Do it. I don't see you doing it. That's just what it has to be. That's the mentality you have to have. It has to be, 'Ok, cool. You know I'm running a slant. I'm going to beat you inside and I'm going to catch this ball and get 7 yards,' or whatever you're going to get.
"It just has to be that mentality. You have to have it. Now is the time you have to have it."