Packers vs. Giants: How Odell Beckham Jr. was slowed down in Week 5 meeting

Slow down Odell Beckham Jr. and you’re halfway to defeating the New York Giants. The Green Bay Packers achieved this in their Week 5 victory over Sunday’s opponents.

Outside of an incredible toe-tap touchdown, which proved to be nothing more than a consolation, the Packers held Beckham in check in the previous meeting of these two teams.

Like Sunday, they were forced to do so with a banged up secondary. Sam Shields and Damarious Randall missed the game. Shields has since been placed on injured reserve, and the Packers could again be without the services of Randall and fellow second-year corner Quinten Rollins.

So how did Green Bay hold New York’s star pass catcher to five catches for 56 yards and a late score? It wasn’t just Beckham muted, the Giants were held to just 199 yards through the air all evening.

The key was winning with primarily four-man rushes. Dom Capers understood the need for added help to the secondary, often deploying safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix into coverage, one safety shaded Beckham’s way.

This is a risky business, as it can leave the front seven outnumbered. Dropping both safeties back into coverage is a conservative approach that invites the run. Unfortunately for New York, a Rashad Jennings-less rushing attack was blunted with just 43 yards on the ground.

The Giants haven’t run the ball with much success all season, averaging just 88.3 rushing yards per game, fourth-fewest in the NFL. They run into a Green Bay defense eighth-best at stopping the run. For all of the Packers’ defensive deficiencies, shutting down rushing attacks has generally been a strength.

The same must be true on Sunday. Assuming Capers protects his young cornerbacks with added safety help again, he will need the big men to win up front and allow little rushing room. The moment New York can run the ball at will, the entire defensive gameplan falls apart. Beckham will be left licking his chops should he see a safety drop down into the box.

Beckham is at his best when he breaks free in the open field with room to burn. According to ESPN, he piled up 524 yards after the catch this season, seventh-most in the NFL.

Enter the benefits of dropping two safeties back versus the Giants. Conservative, yes, but it can be effective in slowing Beckham’s success. This approach allows the Packers to keep everything in front of them and prevent the back-breaking big play the third-year receiver is known for.

Green Bay achieved this in Week 5, Beckham posting just 22 yards after the catch, 11 of which came on one play. The Packers must tackle well, something they did that evening, Beckham often swarmed moments after making the catch.

According to SportingCharts.com, the Packers have allowed 35 big passing plays this season (a completion of 25 yards or more), fourth-most in the NFL. Beckham is the master of the big play.

Slowing down Eli Manning‘s favorite target will require a similar gameplan to the one we saw in Week 5. Dom Capers must rely on his front seven to shut down New York’s rushing attack, while pressuring Manning with primarily four-man rushes. If the Packers can achieve this, Capers will be able to deploy two high safeties with the hope of preventing Beckham shredding a secondary in desperate need of reinforcements.

If the Giants are forced to rely on their ground game for production, it’s advantage Green Bay.

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