New York Giants: Revamped offense will help Saquon Barkley return to form

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants revamped their offense this offseason. Last year, the Giants had one of the worst offenses in the NFL. The team averaged only 17.5 points per game in 2020, ranking them second-to-last in the league. A major piece of the Giants’ offense was missing for the majority of last season.

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week 2, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Thus, New York was left without its best playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. The Giants’ receiving corps lacked talent and failed to create separation during route running. Ultimately, the Giants’ front office recognized these mistakes and moved to correct them in the offseason.

The Giants signed elite wide receiver Kenny Golladay to be their new alpha dog on the outside. They also added ankle-breaking slot receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. New York even went ahead and signed tight end Kyle Rudolph to bring some dependability to the position alongside the inconsistent Evan Engram.

The signing of Kenny Golladay makes other wide receivers like Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton better. Golladay being their primary receiver allows Shepard and Slayton to move into complementary roles, facing off against lesser competition at cornerback. Toney makes the Giants’ YAC game better and Rudolph makes the team’s short-to-intermediate receiving better, too. But overall, all these new additions will make Saquon Barkley better and allow him to return to form this season.

How Saquon Barkley benefits from the Giants’ new additions on offense

When fully healthy, Saquon Barkley is in consideration for the best running back in the NFL. In his 2018 rookie campaign, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage as one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers. He was a presence rushing and receiving out of the backfield. Saquon Barkley’s 2019 season was hampered by injuries but he was still a stellar back that rushed for over 1,000 yards.

At times in 2019, Barkley faced some stout defenses and struggled to find any rushing lanes. For example, in Week 10 of the 2019 season, Barkley rushed for 1 yard on 13 attempts against the New York Jets. 2019 was supposed to be Saquon’s year as he was the sole focal point of the offense. The team traded away its number one receiver Odell Beckham that offseason, leaving Barkley to be the offense’s one and only playmaker.

Running backs often struggle to succeed when there is a lack of talent around them. A top receiver outside can open things up for the rushing attack as opposing defenses key-in on the receiving threat, putting more defensive backs on the field and lining up with fewer stacked boxes.

The Giants’ influx of offensive talent should result in fewer stacked boxes against the team’s offense. Defenses did not respect the Giants’ receiving corps in 2020. Wayne Gallman, starting in place of the injured Saquon Barkley, faced 8+ defenders in the box on 40.14% of his rushing attempts (second-highest in the NFL). With more receiving threats for defenses to account for on the Giants’ offense, Saquon Barkley should see fewer stacked boxes and greater rushing opportunities.

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