A look at Odell Beckham Jr.'s curious case of drops

It has been two weeks since the New York Giants' season came to a crashing halt, with the roof falling on the reputation of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He dropped a pair of passes -- including a potential early touchdown -- and several other balls that a wide receiver of his ilk is supposed to catch in any game, much less a playoff game.

With their best (and really only) playmaker struggling, the Giants suffered a 38-13 wild-card round loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Two weeks later, with the dust having finally settled, it's still a wonder how all this could have happened. Beckham once was a sure-handed receiver seemingly destined to thrive in the biggest of games. A large chunk of his production this season came late in the fourth quarter of close games.

But the playoff drops were curiously out of character for the Beckham who played the first two and a half years or his career. It was strangely in line with the Beckham who showed up over the final seven games (including playoffs) of this season.

The Giants' top playmaker had nine drops on the first 381 targets of his career. He had six on his final 82 targets this past season. That is a drop every 14 passes thrown in his direction compared to one every 42 over the first two and a half years of his career, leaving one to wonder what contributed to this sudden curious case of drops.

Although they're difficult to separate, the weather, the pressure of finally playing in more meaningful games and a thumb injury seem to be near the top of the list. Beckham scraped his right thumb against the turf late in a Week 11 win over the Chicago Bears. He downplayed it on multiple occasions.

"Rub some dirt on it and play," Beckham continuously said.

Maybe it wasn't quite that simple. It seems awfully coincidental that the sudden case of dropsies occurred almost immediately after the injury, which also forced him to leave the field for a few minutes early in a Week 12 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Unless ...

The cold weather contributed to Beckham's unexpected subpar performances. He had five drops in the Giants' three coldest games of the year, including two against the Cowboys and Packers, when the frozen footballs resemble bricks.

The latter was a forgettable performance in the coldest game of Beckham's career (the only game in college and pros where the temperature at kickoff was below 32 degrees) and one that will play on a loop in his mind for months. The Pro Bowl receiver takes losses hard and this was no exception, as evidenced by the hole in the wall at Lambeau Field that allegedly was caused by his fist.

"I'm sure it's going to be a long offseason," Beckham said after the loss. "At the end of the day, you just have to take it and you have to grow. You have to learn from it and find ways not to have this feeling again."

The only way for true redemption is for Beckham to perform in the playoffs. That is where he's ultimately going to be judged after the recent postseason dud, where quarterback Eli Manning and coach Ben McAdoo left open the possibility of Beckham's putting too much pressure on himself against the Packers.

The Miami boat trip couldn't have helped in that regard. The eyes and attention only added to the pressure to perform.

And the pressure might have been too much.

Whatever it was, Beckham and the Giants have eight months to figure it out. He's going to have to catch the ball better next year, or else they will be right back pondering what is at the root of this case of sudden drops. And the thumb injury won't even be a realistic option.