by Spiro Kasabian @ NYspawtsguy_spi
Saquon Barkley has been the most talented player in a New York Giant uniform over the last two years. However, in 2019, the former NFL Rookie of the Year is simply not playing as such. His performance has almost certainly been affected by the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3, but we will never know the extent to which it is affecting him.
Barkley has not been helped by his offensive line, which is not opening many holes for the talented back to operate. There is also the question of stacked eight-man boxes. Opponents want to force rookie Daniel Jones to beat them with receivers that struggle to get open. Lastly, Pat Shurmur’s play-calling has left a lot to be desired. Many Giants fans argue that Shurmur is not properly utilizing Barkley’s talents by failing to get him into space or into the passing game. We all saw the fake fullback dive and pitch to Barkley on 3rd and short last week.
Wherever you would like to place blame, at least some of it needs to go on Barkley. As I said, the injury has sapped him of some of his freakish ability. I also believe it has made Barkley a bit more hesitant when running, which takes away his trademark speed and home run hitting ability. We haven’t seen Barkley make plays out of thin air like he did last year. Barkley’s block has also been lackluster, to say the least.
Barkley’s Last Four Games
- 63 Rushes
- 171 Yards (2.7 Yards Per Carry)
- 16 Catches
- 129 Yards
- 0 TDs
Saquon struggled again on Sunday, gaining a mere 60 total yards from scrimmage on 19 touches. Twenty-two of those yards came on Barkley’s final run of the day, so he was otherwise bottled up for 37 yards on 16 carries (2.3 YPC). All those numbers are bad.
Barkley’s worst play of the day came through in the passing game. Very early in the 1st Quarter, Pat Shurmur called up a great play to get Barkley the ball in space on a wheel route against Roquan Smith. Barkley, with a ton of space in front of him and only one defender to beat for a long TD (#39 Eddie Jackson), dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Daniel Jones.
This would have been a huge momentum-gaining play for the New York Giants early in the game that would have put them in the driver seat. The offense struggled to generate much throughout the game, until the second to last drive when the defense was playing prevent. These are the plays that Barkley can make in his sleep, but he has simply not been making them in 2019. The New York Giant offense is not deep enough, nor talented enough, to succeed without their best player playing at the top of his game.
Barkley vs the Green Bay Packers
Barkley was better on Sunday against the Packers, amassing over 100 yards from scrimmage with a few long runs mixed in between. Saquon still looked a bit hesitant getting through several holes and missed a couple of opportunities to make big plays. On several instances, Barkley had a chance to bounce plays outside or pick a different (better) hole and simply went the wrong decision. These decisions are costing Barkley game-changing opportunities.
At this point, it doesn’t seem like Barkley wants to shut it down. It is admirable that he wants to play out the season and be there for his teammates, so I will not knock him for that. I just wonder if it would be better for Shurmur to reduce his carries, especially in games that are non-competitive. Saquon needs to reset the batteries this offseason and get back to full strength. I have no doubt that he will bounce back.