The 2020 season might be the most important one yet for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. After getting his career off to a flying start during his rookie season and competing for the rushing title, Barkley ran into injury trouble in year two and missed significant time in 2019, before coming back slowly and only getting in form later in the year.
The new changes for 2020 introduce help on the offensive line as well as a new head coach and offensive coordinator, but all of that needs returning star players such as Barkley to step up if the Giants are going to make an improvement. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic about Barkley’s play this year, however. According to the NFL Network’s analyst Steve Mariucci, Barkley could even end up in contention for the MVP award this year.
The case for Barkley winning MVP
“Six running backs have made MVP in the last 25 years, but they did something special like rush for 2,000 yards or break the rushing record like LT did with 28 rushing touchdowns. But Saquon is versatile. He had 91 receptions and a bunch of yards rushing as a rookie. He’s going to go over 2,000 yards again. He’s got a chance,” Mariucci remarked on NFL Total Access.
Barkley’s production fell off in 2019 compared to the year prior, with 1,003 yards and 6 touchdowns compared to 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also made a significant lesser impact in the passing game with 52 receptions compared to 91, and a large drop in targets too.
But Barkley will come into the season healthy and if he avoids another injury, he can play the entire year and exceed his rookie numbers with the help of a more experienced Daniel Jones and an offense run by a more competent staff including Jason Garrett, who was able to get good performance out of fellow running back Ezekiel Elliot during his time with the Cowboys.
Garrett has shown he can coach an offense that puts a emphasis on the running game, Barkley has shown just how reliable he can be when healthy, and the Giants have worked to improve the offensive line in general with the addition of Andrew Thomas as a main starter and Cameron Fleming as a depth option – if all of those factors come together in 2020, Barkley getting more than 2,000 total yards and carrying the rebuilding team during an MVP season doesn’t seem like such an unrealistic outcome.