Saquon Barkley quickly burst onto the scene a season ago, cementing the rationale for the New York Giants having selected him second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. After his rookie season, Barkley was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year while also being selected to the Pro Bowl.
After rushing for over 1300 yards, 11 touchdowns, while adding four receiving touchdowns, the expectation is for Saquon Barkley to take another step in year two. Now with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., Barkley is undoubtedly the leader and foundational piece of the Giants offense.
The Giants understand this, but more importantly so do their opponents. New York has a tall task at hand in having to maximize all of Barkley’s talent without overworking him. To get the most out of Saquon in year two, the Giants have to build the offense around him properly.
Establish the Passing Game
The passing and the rushing game go hand in hand, and it helps if each is in tune and working correctly. Saquon Barkley has the potential to be among the best running backs in the game, but it won’t help if the defense stacks the box when lined up across from him.
A season ago, the Giants were ranked 21st in passing touchdowns and were actually above average in yards gained per pass attempt (12th) and passing yards per game (Pro Football Reference). Reminder, that was with Odell Beckham Jr. in the fold.
Now Beckham Jr. is gone, and to make matters worse suspensions and the injury bug has hit the receiving unit. Golden Tate‘s four-game suspension has been upheld, and receiver Amba Etta-Tawo tore his Achilles in practice. New York lacks depth at wideout, but establishing the passing game is vital to ensure Saquon Barkley stays fresh long-term.
Use Barkley as a Pass Catcher
The role of an NFL running back is ever-evolving, and the emphasis on being able to catch out of the backfield is becoming more critical. Luckily for the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley does this exceptionally well.
It’s not rocket science to know that running up the middle every play will wear a running back down. If New York’s receiving unit will be lacking depth, and the Giants must resort to relying on Saquon, then it’s smart to avoid putting any unnecessary toll on him.
Leverage the play-action, where Barkley can be lethal catching out of the backfield. Line up in shotgun formation and utilize Saquon as a receiver. Either way, Saquon Barkley has proven to be a threat in the passing game as well, and New York would be wise to maximize on this skillset. It just might help the Giants and Saquon in the long run.