Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Will Beatty's mind playing tricks on Giants
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Can Will Beatty (65) keep Brian Orakpo away from Eli Manning during the Dec. 29 season finale?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Whatever else you want to say about Will Beatty, you have to give him points for honesty. The New York Giants' left tackle had one of his worst games Sunday night against Brian Orakpo and the Washington Redskins, and instead of brushing it off, Beatty let everybody in on just how hard he was taking it.
Speaking after Giants practice Wednesday, Beatty said he believed he put too much pressure on himself this year after signing his five-year, $37.5 million contract in the offseason and admitted he lets things get into his head and affect him on the field.
"I know I came into this year trying to do too much," Beatty said. "Last year was a good year for me because I was just focused on the task at hand. And then you get the contract, and you know the eyes are on you, people are expecting more from you. And I'm out there thinking, 'I want to earn that contract, I want to make sure they know I wasn't a fluke.' And I end up blowing it out of proportion."
Introspection is admirable. In order to improve, we first must understand what's going on inside of us that's keeping us from improving. Beatty appears to excel at this, and as a reporter covering the team you appreciate that, even if it ends up making you feel like his therapist.
"I've got to approach it as, I've been blessed with this contract, and then just build on the reasons I got it, rather than thinking I have to change this and change that," Beatty said. "There's just way too much stuff in my head. Last week wasn't the best game for me, but we got the win. So I have to focus on that."
Fascinating guy, don't get me wrong. You don't hear many pro athletes talk like this about themselves. But the fact that Beatty has so many thoughts banging around like bumper cars in his head has to make the Giants wonder about the guy to whom they committed all that money last offseason as a franchise left tackle. As they head toward an offseason with tons of questions to answer at almost every position, they really can't afford to count Beatty and his mental state among their worries.
By virtue of the position he plays, Beatty needs to be a rock. And right now, he is not. Right now, he's all over the place.
"Eli Manning, I admire him a lot," Beatty said. "Because we've all seen how great he can be with a clean pocket. And unfortunately, we haven't been giving him as clean a pocket as we have in the past, but he's still improving as a quarterback and making some great throws. As an offensive line, we know we have to give him that clean pocket. We want to give him that five-, six-game streak where he's not being pressured.
"We know what he can do when he has a pocket and we think, 'Oh, how great would it be if we could give him that pocket again?'"
Maybe it is some form of therapy for Beatty to talk this openly about his innermost football concerns. Maybe it's catharsis. Maybe he's just the kind of dude who doesn't dissemble, who answers questions when asked and has a tendency to answer them more thoroughly than his questioner might expect. But that last bit about Manning -- who was sacked twice by Orakpo in the Giants' 24-17 victory -- didn't even come off a question. I was in the middle of asking him something else, and he cut me off and started saying that.
And again, fine. Everyone's different. But Beatty's personality does sort of feed into the outside perception of him as a player. He's not a mean, mauling presence at left tackle. He's a smart, athletic, technique-oriented left tackle. And while a guy like that can be great, he needs his technique to be perfect in order to stay great. And this year, Beatty's technique has slipped.
"It's all footwork, sitting low in my stance. It's a leverage game," the 6-foot-6, 319-pound Beatty said. "Me being tall, I've got to make sure I stay low in my stance. I've got to make sure I'm eye-to-eye or lower all the time."
He has struggled with hand placement this year, too, and setting too early so he gets beaten on the inside. Overall, rough year, and he blames it on what's going on in his own head. The extent to which he gets his problems fixed will depend on his ability to control all of those thoughts and doubts and second-guesses, or eliminate them completely. Beatty believes forgetting about Orakpo over the next three games, before facing him again in the season finale, is a way of working on that.
"I get to see Orakpo again, and when you win a game, it's much easier the next week to clean up what you need to clean up," Beatty said. "So I'm going to set last week aside and save it for the last game of the regular season and just move forward."
Watch closely over the next three games to see whether Beatty can pull that off. If on Sunday he still looks like he's got too much in his head and is still upset over a bad Week 13 game, then you'll have a right to worry about his long-term ability to handle the psychological rigors of his job. And so will the Giants, who can't afford to have Beatty be one of their problems so soon after making him a huge part of their future.