After a turbulent first year with the Cleveland Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. is excited for a fresh start under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
The Browns pulled the trigger on hiring the former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator after an extended coaching search that spanned two-plus weeks and saw the team interview many high-profile coordinators around the league.
Stefanski’s background with the Vikings and utilizing two talented receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen has Beckham excited about the prospects of next season. Beckham shared his thoughts on the hire in a Q&A interview with Zach Frydenlund of Complex Sports.
“You know, it’s going on year seven for me now, but this business teaches you that anybody’s replaceable and there’s always going to be new coaches coming in and new staff, unless you’re in one of those places where it just happens to not be like that. But where I’ve been at, unfortunately I’ve been on some teams, not-so-good teams, so we’ve kind of reestablished it.
And with the new coach coming in, just seeing what he did with the Minnesota Vikings for a long time with Thielen and 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.”
Odell Beckham Eager to Prove Haters Wrong With Browns
Despite breaking the 1,000-yard barrier, Beckham did not play up to the wild expectations set forth after the blockbuster trade that landed him with the Browns in the offseason. Beckham finished his first season in Cleveland with 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.
Stefanski has said he wants to lay out clear expectations for Beckham as they build their partnership. But there shouldn’t be any lack of motivation from Beckham, who will be determined to prove his doubters wrong.
“I’m going to win in this offseason,” Beckham said after the Browns season ending loss to the Bengals. “2019 has been a year of the losses and all these things. I feel like I’ve taken them with great humility. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’m positive looking into 2020. I’m excited.”
Beckham acknowledged a lot of the talk that he and quarterback Baker Mayfield need to be “fixed,” but he’s not looking at it that way.
“The thing is, people don’t get to where they’re at by not being who they were to get here,’’ he said. “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.”
Odell Beckham Optimistic After Offseason Surgery
Beckham had core surgery this offseason for an injury that hampered him all season. He’s expected to be ready for all of the Browns offseason work.
“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,” Beckham said.
“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.”
He expressed that he wants himself and Jarvis Landry to function much like Thielen and Diggs, who both eclipsed 100 catches in 2018.
“Yep. I think that’s the plan, and I’m hoping that that’s the game plan,” Beckham told Complex. “It takes an army to get a team right. There’s no one player who—it’s not basketball. Basketball is a little different. One player can can dominate an entire game, offense, defense, and the team pitch in here and there and they still could win the game. Football is not like that.”