The New York Giants will face off with the division-rival Eagles tonight on prime time. The Giants are on the road for today’s Monday Night Football matchup. The 2-10 Giants will have a tall task against the 5-7 Eagles, especially with their starting quarterback Daniel Jones out with injury.
Filling in for Jones on Monday night is a guy you might have heard of before, Eli Manning. The 16-year veteran is making his return after being benched for the rookie in Week 3. Tonight could very well be the last game in Eli’s legendary career with the Giants, so cherish every moment of it!
Losing Daniel Jones this week might not be all bad news, however. There are things Manning brings to the table that could give the Giants a better chance to win. Most importantly, Eli Manning elevates running back Saquon Barkley’s game. Barkley has struggled tremendously this season. Maybe Eli Manning is precisely what he needs to get out of his slump.
How Eli Manning Elevates Saquon Barkley’s Game
One area where Saquon Barkley has struggled this season in pass protection. The explosive running back has had a few whiffs as a blocker. In the Giants’ previous matchup against the New York Jets, Saquon was responsible for giving up multiple sacks that led to fumbles.
Saquon Barkley had his worst game as a pro against the Jets today.
On top of carrying the ball 13 times for just 1 yard, he was a liability in pass protection.
— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) November 10, 2019
One thing to consider when looking at Saquon Barkley’s struggles in pass protection is the change at quarterback. Last year, Barkley was helping protect Eli Manning. Manning is a veteran quarterback who has been in the league for over a decade and knows how to read a defense and call the right protections. Eli is also better at calling audibles and switching between run and pass plays. Daniel Jones is still learning this aspect of the professional game.
Saquon Barkley was lucky to step into a system last season that was highly favorable for a rookie running back. Playing with Eli Manning helped Saquon Barkley be up to speed and learn the offense and protections sooner. Eli Manning also helped Saquon get more involved with the offense.
Eli Manning received much criticism for his high volume of check-downs, but it was an efficient way to keep Saquon Barkley involved in the offense. Last year, with Eli Manning at quarterback, Saquon Barkley received an astonishing 121 total targets. He caught 91 of those passes for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns. Barkley had a 75.2% catch rate, and his receiving stats were all significantly better than this year with Daniel Jones.
In 2019, Saquon Barkley is averaging only 4.2 receptions per game compared to 5.7 in 2018. His catch rate has also dropped to 67.9%. Barkley has not been as involved in the passing game this season as he was last season. With Eli Manning back at quarterback, Barkley should receive an influx of targets tonight, leading to a strong performance on prime time.