Brandon Marshall has been The Man for a long time.
He was The Man at Central Florida where he caught 112 passes for 1,674 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was The Man in Denver, despite coming in the league as a fourth-round draft pick. Marshall eventually left Denver and became The Man in Miami, The Man in Chicago, and The Man in Gang Green.
Marshall signed a two-year, $12 million deal to join the Giants. Instead of being The Man, he will be asked to play a different role than the one he’d grown accustomed to. The Giants need Marshall to be The Man Next To The Man.
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The Giants’ Man is Odell Beckham Jr., one of the league’s most explosive receivers. OBJ has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons without the luxury of having another Pro Bowl level skill player.
Marshall seems to embrace his new Man Next To The Man status. In an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, he referred to both himself and Sterling Shepard as “No. 2” s.
“I just think there is a lot of opportunity on the other side of Odell with a young guy in Shepard being in the slot,” he said. “Being on the outside, every team tries to take out Odell and I’m just trying to help out the offense, offensive coordinator and quarterback just to keep defensive coordinators and the opposing defense honest. I think there is a lot of opportunity to definitely produce, given that Odell is on the other side.
“And I also think that in our room I have a wealth of experience that is there and I think our guys can pull from organically. I think it’s something that doesn’t need to be forced or strategically planned on. Those guys, when they need to, they will pull from me in an organic way.”
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Marshall is the kind of big bodied wide receiver the Giants haven’t had since Plaxico Burress wore No. 17. He caught 109 passes in 2015, setting Jets single-season records for receptions (109), receiving yards (1,502), and touchdowns (14). He is an improvement over Victor Cruz because of his physicality in the opening field and red zone ability.
Marshall new role of the Man Next To The Man is only enhanced by the camaraderie he already shares with Beckham.
“I have had a great relationship with Odell for the past two years. Two years ago, we started building a relationship. I just love the guy to death,” Marshall said. “He’s the biggest star in the NFL, between Antonio Brown and Julio Jones, it’s a toss-up of who is the best receiver in the league, and I’m excited about that. I love his passion, I love his approach to the game and I’m just happy I can be on the other side of him to pull coverage and make his job easier.”
Marshall doesn’t have to the player who reached six Pro Bowls and co-lead the NFL in touchdowns in 2015. The Giants have Beckham who is a touchdown waiting to happen on every play. He needs to take pressure off Beckham on the field and help him navigate through life as an NFL player off it.
Marshall has all the individual accolades that you’d expect from a player who’s on his way to Canton. The one missing item is playoff success. For all his greatness, Marshall has never been to the postseason. He feels the Giants are in the best position to give him the one thing missing from his resume.
“The best way I can describe how I approach it is being able to have a real shot at [winning a championship],” he said. “I think that is what I have here.”