The New York Giants’ lukewarm commitment to former No. 2 overall pick, running back Saquon Barkley, has been ripe with injury concern and inconsistency in play.
Though the player has built a low-end RB1 status off his unique ability to bounce through defenses and utilize home-run speed for big gains, one NFC coach decided to challenge that perspective: reminding fans that successful NFL RBs build their statuses through consistent running rather than shortened bursts of production.
“I’m down on him — he still doesn’t know how to play running back enough,” the NFL coach said, via Alex Wilson of Empire Sports Media. “He’s a bouncer. He wants every run to be a home run. He’s going to have to learn that 4-yard runs in this league are good, instead of stopping, cutting it back and losing 2. And he gets his ass kicked in protection.”
The anonymous coach’s comments, to the chagrin of plenty of Giants fans, felt substantiated.
Barkley has been rightfully lauded for boasting a physical skill set that few running backs in the League carry, but an inability to gain solid yardage and instead opt to dance with the defense for a 40-plus yard gain hasn’t been the best fit.
Stretches of the 2021 season for the Giants offense included secondary running back Devontae Booker, who often proved to be a better fit for quarterback Daniel Jones in both pass protection, rushing and catching passes out of the backfield. Giants fans seemingly began to worry if their former lottery and Dave Gettleman-manifested draft pick in Barkley would be worth consideration for an expectedly pricey contract extension.
All-time, the Giants have a 10-35 record with Barkley.
After the Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option in 2021, the upcoming season is set up as a sink-or-swim campaign for the former Pro Bowler, achieved in his rookie season. And that Saquon is about a distant memory at this point.
Barkley’s rookie campaign in 2018 produced 2,000+ yards from scrimmage for the Giants. Achieving 1,000-yard rushing seasons and 23 total touchdowns his first two seasons was a great outset to his career, but a shortened campaign in 2020 due to an ACL tear put the brakes on most of his momentum.
In 13 appearances in 2021, Saquon tallied 162 carries and 593 rushing yards, adding 41 receptions and 263 receiving yards. He averaged 3.7 yards on the ground.
With former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll now leading the Giants as head coach, expectations for his first-year schematics, alongside OC Mike Kafka, emits hope of a resurging Giants offense.
Daboll, who ran a successful pass-heavy offense for Bills QB Josh Allen, and Kafka, who served as quarterbacks coach for Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, have already boosted Giants QB Daniel Jones’ stock.
But will their schemes benefit Saquon?
Daboll thinks he can make it work between the offense and Barkley.
“I think Saquon is a unique guy,” Daboll said of Barkley’s skillsets during minicamps. “You move him in different spots, that makes other guys have to learn other spots, too. It really falls on the five eligible receivers or the personnel groups you hope to utilize. He’s got good hands, he’s a good route runner, a good runner.”