Why the Giants need to run their offense through Saquon Barkley in Week 2

new york giants, saquon barkley
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are looking to bounce back with a win in Week 2 after their embarrassing, shutout defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. The Giants have a favorable matchup this Sunday, traveling to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. In order to secure the victory, however, Big Blue will need to run their offense through star RB Saquon Barkley.

Saquon Barkley looked solid in the season opener

Despite the scoreline, there were some positives to draw from the season opener. Of the few positives, Barkley’s performance happened to be one of them. On their first drive of the game, the Giants marched down the field and into the red zone, picking up the majority of their yardage on the ground.

The Giants ran the ball eight times for a total of 52 yards to get the offense inside the red zone on that first drive. Barkley totaled 19 yards on five carries on the drive. He finished the game with only 12 carries but totaled 51 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) against Dallas.

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The score got out of hand rather early in the contest, causing Barkley to get pulled from the lineup to preserve his health. But Barkley gave Big Blue’s offense signs of life in Week 1.

The Giants quickly abandoned the run in the first quarter; a mistake that would ultimately cost them everything. In Week 2, against a banged-up Arizona Cardinals defense, Barkley needs to be the focal point of New York’s offense.

Barkley is remaining calm under pressure

Barkley shared insight on his mindset heading into Week 2. After such a lopsided defeat, analysts are questioning the Giants’ ability to make the postseason, and fans are beginning to hit the panic button. Barkley, on the other hand, is maintaining his composure.

“You can’t act like the sky is falling. That’s for everyone else to do that. You gotta stay solid.”

Saquon Barkley on if there’s a sense of urgency after Week 1’s loss to the Cowboys via SNY

New York is under pressure to win this weekend. If they do not secure the victory, they will be staring down an 0-3 start as they will face off against the dominant San Francisco 49ers just four days later on Thursday Night Football in Week 3.

Barkley has scored a rushing touchdown in four straight road games that the Giants have played. On the road in Week 2, feeding a composed Barkley should lead to points on the board for Big Blue.

The Giants can’t trust their offensive line to hold up in pass protection

The Giants simply cannot trust their offensive line to hold up in pass protection at this point.

New York surrendered seven sacks (two negated via penalty) and 12 QB hits in Week 1. QB Daniel Jones was pressured on 62.9% of his dropbacks, by far the highest percentage of any quarterback in the NFL. The offensive line sunk the gameplan in Week 1; something that cannot happen again in Week 2.

The best way to mitigate an offensive line’s struggles in the passing game is to keep the ball on the ground. Barkley is no stranger to playing behind poor offensive lines, forcing himself into the workhorse role. Last season, Barkley took 30 or more carries in two separate games. The Giants won both of those games on the shoulders of their star running back.

Expect to see New York deploy a similar approach in Week 2. While Barkley may not surpass the 30-attempt-marker, he should easily touch the football at least 20 times against the Cardinals. Running the offense through Barkley will be the key to victory for the Giants in Week 2.