It looks like the New York Giants can finally run the ball again. It’s been years since they’ve threatened other teams with their backfield, but the addition of Saquon Barkley is proving to be one that should pan out as expected. The young running back has helped the Giants in multiple areas so far and has contributed touchdowns either running the ball or receiving in every game except for the Dallas loss.
He’s also contributed more than 100 yards in every game of his NFL career so far, with both rushing and receiving included in that statistic. In fact, he kept the streak alive against New Orleans by finishing with exactly 100 yards. Against the Panthers, when Barkley had 48 yards on the ground, he made up for his lack of a rushing touchdown by scoring not one but two through the air.
In other words, you could say Barkley is living up to the hype and is showing the kind of versatility that the Giants drafted him for. His skillset has translated well from college, with his famous dips and cuts already showing up in his NFL appearances. Furthermore, Barkley’s presence on the field gives the opposing defense more to focus on and opens up other players, such as Odell Beckham Jr.
The trick play touchdown that the two scored against the Panthers is a good example of the chaos that they can cause when on the field together. So why is it that we don’t see Barkley rushing the ball more than 20 times a game? Giving Barkley the ball more has been commonly suggested as a way to help an offense that has struggled through much of the season.
In his last game, though, he had 15 rushing attempts, and against New Orleans, he had only 10. Yes, only 10 rushing attempts for the entire game. Coincidentally, that game ended up being one where the Giants were outclassed. Against Dallas, Barkley still had a relatively low amount of carries with 11 of them.
The season opening loss was when he had his highest yards total and his highest yards per carry average. Barkley has been able to handle his workload so far, and you may have wondered if this is going to result in him getting more carries as the season goes on. Well, it looks like the answer to that is a maybe.
Let’s take a look at the list of running backs this season, by rushing attempts. Barkley happens to be the youngest player in that group, after reaching the number nine spot on the list at the age of 21. He’s also the only rookie on the top ten list, which is expected after the Giants spent their number two overall pick on him.
That’s part of the reason why you’ll likely see the number of carries per game stay around the same number for Barkley. He’s already one of the top ten running backs in the league in terms of usage, and that’s only the ground game. This doesn’t include his play in the passing game at all, and it’s safe to say that Barkley ha a bigger workload than a power back who rushes the ball 17 times a game but never runs routes and makes receptions.
It’s still early in his career. He isn’t halfway through his first season as a professional. It’s important to not wear down the future star of the team with too many snaps early on, and that’s what the Giants could inadvertently do if they start giving Barkely the same carries as, say, Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliot.
Let’s not forget that Barkley is a rookie and that the upcoming Thursday night game against the Eagles will only be the sixth game of his career. He’s already done more than most players had at this point, and it would be better to keep that going rather than overworking him potentially.
We would all like to see Saquon Barkley run the ball more. But the truth is? He’s already carrying the ball almost as much as any back in the league. He’s also helping out in the passing game, which takes more effort than a typical viewer could notice. It’s best to not either cause his form to slump or let him get injured, especially when this season isn’t exactly one worth picking up an injury for at this point.
There will be a time when he becomes the workhorse back of the Giants. That time, though, is a little bit off into the future. Maybe later this year. Maybe next year. But it will eventually happen. Just not right now, going into Thursday Night Football against the Eagles.