Odell Beckham Jr.’s Return Comes at the Perfect Time for Baker Mayfield and Browns Offense But Doesn’t Guarantee Instant Success

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is making his return to the field at the perfect time after tearing his ACL in 2020. His presence is a much-needed boost to the Browns offense. OBJ is the most talented weapon on the roster, so Baker Mayfield must be happy to have him back.

However, Beckham’s return doesn’t exactly mean the Browns will blow teams out of the water. It may take some time.

The Browns suffered a setback with Jarvis Landry’s injury

Even though Odell Beckham Jr. will most likely return for the Browns’ Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears, the offense won’t be at full strength.

Cleveland placed Jarvis Landry on the injured reserved list after he suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2. The IR tag means that he will miss at least three games.

Landry has been an essential member of the Browns offense since he arrived in 2018. The LSU product has led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in each of his three full seasons in Cleveland.

The loss of Landry is enormous for this offense, although he’ll return this season. The five-time Pro Bowler has built rapport with Baker Mayfield, and his production will be difficult to duplicate.

Landry’s injury leaves a void that cannot be overlooked. The timing of OBJ’s return to action couldn’t be more convenient.

Odell Beckham Jr. needs to redevelop chemistry with Baker Mayfield

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield talks to Odell Beckham Jr. during a game
Browns teammates Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield talk during game against the Ravens | Will Newton/Getty Images

Cleveland’s trade for Odell Beckham Jr. before the 2019 season left the NFL world stunned. It was hard to fathom the New York Giants giving up on a generational talent like OBJ so soon.

However, the Browns hoped to turn one team’s trash into their treasure. Beckham Jr. established himself as one of the most gifted receivers in the league during his tenure with the Giants.

The former LSU Tiger recorded 390 receptions for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in five seasons with the Giants. Those are insane numbers, especially considering he missed most of the 2017 season due to injury.

OBJ played well in his first season with the Browns. He caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. His reception and touchdown totals both dropped, though.

Baker Mayfield was entering his second season in the league and needed to make improvements on his game. He and Landry already established chemistry, which is why OBJ’s college teammate received a few more targets.

Mayfield enjoyed his best season statistically in 2020 and appeared to take the step forward that the Browns expected. Beckham Jr.’s season was cut short, however, as a result of the ACL injury.

The Browns offense was forced to operate without their star receiver for nine regular-season games plus the playoffs. Mayfield’s play didn’t suffer, though. It’s unclear if the three-time Pro Bowl wideout is a good fit in Cleveland, but as long as he stays healthy the rest of the way, the answer will become more evident.

The Browns desperately need Odell Beckham Jr.’s game-breaking ability

Odell Beckham Jr. makes catching the football look effortless sometimes. In terms of pure, raw talent, he’s got it. Now, the question is whether or not he can put it all together in his return to the Browns’ lineup.

Cleveland has Super Bowl aspirations, or at least that’s what the media has portrayed. To reach those heights, they need to be clicking on all cylinders.

The Browns’ super-talented defense hasn’t lived up to the hype early on in the 2021 season. The offense is currently top-10 in total offense and features a well-balanced attack.

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the most talented running back tandem in the NFL. The rushing attack is the clear strength of the Browns offense. However, if they want to contend for a Super Bowl, they’ll need big plays in the passing game as well.

Beckham Jr. is a big play waiting to happen. He possesses all of the physical tools that are ideal for the wide receiver position. How will he look coming off the injury, though?

“The speed, cuts, and explosiveness are as sharp as ever,” said ESPN’s Jake Trotter. Training camp and individual drills are entirely different from live in-game action, however. The evaluation is promising, but we need to see it first.

If OBJ can regain form and provide returns anywhere near his best seasons in New York, the Browns will be dangerous. If not, the Browns may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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