Why Saquon Barkley is primed for a major bounce-back season

Anthony Rivardo
New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants need Saquon Barkley to return to form. The second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft exploded onto the scene with a historic rookie season. Barkley won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award after totaling a league-high 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Since then, however, Barkley has been unable to replicate that success. Injuries have piled up and poor coaching and offensive line play have held him back. But there are reasons to believe that things are finally ready to turn around for the superstar running back. Entering a contract year in 2022, Saquon Barkley is primed for a major bounce-back season.

Saquon is in peak physical shape

Saquon Barkley looks like he was made in a lab to play football. From his tree-trunk legs that earned him the “SaQuads” nickname to his bulky upper body, Barkley is a freak of nature. Saquon has always been “built different” dating back to his collegiate playing days. But this offseason he looks to be in the best shape of his career:

The New York Giants are excited to have Saquon Barkley return to full strength. His lower body has been decimated with injuries over the course of the last three seasons. But Saquon is healthy again and is ready to play a prominent role in the Giants’ offense. Saquon’s expanded role in new head coach Brian Daboll’s offensive scheme should lead to a bounce-back season.

The Giants involving Saquon in the passing game

In 2018, Saquon Barkley broke records as a receiver in the Giants’ offense. He totaled 91 receptions as a running back, an incredible number that also made him a franchise-record holder. 91 receptions are the most by a rookie in New York Giants franchise history. Saquon set that record as a running back. Since then, however, Barkley has seen his involvement in the passing game decrease every season.

Saquon received 121 targets in his rookie season (7.56 targets per game). The Giants have not targeted Saquon Barkley that much in the receiving game since then, seeing his targets per game dwindle to 5.62 in 2019 and all the way down to 3.15 in 2021. The key to returning Barkley to his 2018 playing level is getting him involved in the passing game. Thankfully, this is a concept that Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka thoroughly understand.

According to Ralph Vacchiano, the Giants “want to use Saquon Barkley as an offensive weapon all over the field.” This means lining him up more in the slot and as a wide receiver. According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, 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 in motion.

Saquon Barkley is an incredibly versatile offensive playmaker. It is time for the New York Giants to start utilizing him like one. This is a “prove-it” year for Barkley, as it is for his quarterback Daniel Jones. The offensive line and coaching staff have improved. There are no more excuses for Jones and Barkley. 2022 is the year to show up or leave. Saquon Barkley is in a perfect position to bounce back for the New York Giants this season.