New York Giants: How Brian Daboll could unlock the next level of Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley catching a pass in practice on Sept 17, 2020. (Photo Credit: NY Giants)

The New York Giants need more from their star players. In 2018, the team drafted superstar running back prospect Saquon Barkley out of Penn State with the second overall pick in the first round. Barkley burst onto the scene with a historic rookie season that saw him win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But since then, Barkley has not come close to reaching the same pinnacle of success. However, entering the 2022 season, there is reason to believe new head coach Brian Daboll will propel Saquon into a resurgence that sees him unlock the next level of his game.

Brian Daboll expanding Saquon Barkley’s role in practice

The new-look Giants are revamping their offense. Head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are two bright minds that previously coached some of the best offenses in the NFL. The two are currently collaborating to expand Saquon Barkley’s usage in the offense and make him more of a focal point in the receiving game.

“I think Saquon is a unique guy. 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. Try to use him the best way we can.” – Brian Daboll on Saquon Barkley’s abilities in the receiving game via

According to Zack Rosenblatt of, Saquon Barkley was “lining up as a receiver — both in the slot and outside — frequently throughout drills.” The Giants also had Barkley move a lot pre-snap on motion. Barkley has a versatile skillset that allows him to be moved all around the offense, creating matchup advantages for New York’s offensive attack.

Saquon Barkley impacting the receiving game

Saquon Barkley was heavily utilized as a receiver in his 2018 rookie season. Since then, however, Barkley has dealt with a slew of injuries, keeping him off the field for extended periods of time. When he’s been on the field, though, Saquon has seen his usage in the receiving game dissipate. Saquon played a total of 28 games and had 99 receptions (3.5 a game) the last three seasons, compared to 91 receptions in his 2018 season (5.7 a game).

Barkley’s 2018 season was by far his most productive. His 91 receptions were the most from a rookie in a single-season in New York Giants franchise history – and he did this as a running back. Saquon led the NFL with 2,028 total yards from scrimmage including 721 receiving yards. In those 16 games in 2018, Barkley totaled 721 receiving yards compared to 761 yards in 28 games from 2019-2021. If the Giants want Saquon Barkley to return to form, he needs to be featured more heavily in the passing attack. Thankfully, Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka seem to understand that concept. Saquon Barkley’s increased usage in the receiving game in Brian Daboll’s offensive scheme should lead to a career-year from the New York Giants superstar running back.