New York Giants: The two RBs backing up Devonta Freeman

The New York Giants responded to the Saquon Barkley injury by signing Devonta Freeman. The former Falcons running back looks to be their starter for the rest of the year as Barkley’s ACL recovers. However, Freeman is one running back in a rotation of multiple. With the team’s best player out, it’s reasonable to assume the Giants will give more touches to their backup backs this year.

Who is manning those backup spots? Largely, that’s one new signing and one player that’s been with the Giants for the past three seasons.

Dion Lewis

Former Patriots and Titans running back Dion Lewis was signed during the offseason by the Giants. At the time, it appeared he was just a backup to Saquon Barkley. In this role, Lewis looked like a pretty good fit. After all, he had rushed for nearly 900 yards during his best season and while his performance fell off more recently, the Giants didn’t need him for a large role.

But Lewis might be getting more touches than expected thanks to the team’s current situation. This may be a chance for him to help revive his career. It’s been trending backwards for the past couple of seasons, but we have yet to see much of Lewis as a Giant.

During the 2019 season he fell from 517 yards to 209 while competing with Derrick Henry. It’s hard to tell just how much of that is because of Lewis himself, though. After all, Henry would be considered stiff competition to any back in the league.

In his two appearances for the Giants, Lewis has 11 rushes and 21 yards so far. Not the greatest numbers, but those may see a change. Lewis hardly would have expected to fill in for Saquon Barkley full time in week two against the Bears, but that’s what ended up happening. Presumably, being more mentally in the game next time will prevent such bad numbers in yards per carry.

Wayne Gallman

The other main option behind Devonta Freeman is Wayne Gallman. Gallman actually predates Barkley but he’s only shown flashes of potential, never starring for the Giants. Still, there’s something impressive about his ability to avoid the cut. Even this season when the Giants brought in Lewis, Gallman was able to keep his job for another year.

With no Barkley in the picture and an unfamiliar free agent as the starter, Gallman may get a chance to touch the ball more – at least to trial his skills and see if he’s worth putting in the rotation. He had 476 rushing yards in 2017 but was never able to repeat the performance as Barkley came in and took over the top spot.

The following seasons, Gallman had 176 and 110 yards. Not enough to stand out, but those numbers have been enough to allow him to keep his job. Gallman only has one carry this season so far, in the opener. That was a 14 yard run, but peculiarly, he received no carries against Chicago even after Barkley was hurt.

Don’t expect Gallman to become the main option – but this season may just be a chance for him to justify his continued presence as a backup.

New York Giants confirm ACL tear for Saquon Barkley, what’s next?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The moment New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley fell to the ground in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, his face told the story.

After taking off his helmet and grimacing with severe pain, Barkley clutched his right knee. Everyone’s worst fears became a reality on Monday, as the Giants confirmed an ACL tear that will keep Barkley out for the entire 2020 season. He will now begin rehabilitating for 2021, coming off a significant high ankle sprain that limited him to 13 games in 2019.

The Giants have no choice but to move forward without their allusive and electric running back, and they will need to find a supplement in the meantime.

They’ve already scheduled a visit for free agent Devonta Freeman, who spent the last six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. At 28 years old, he’s coming off a season with 656 yards on the ground and 410 through the air. He is a solid running back who could fill a major void for the Giants immediately. However, the loss of Barkley is a big one and will undoubtedly limit their offensive capabilities.

Quarterback Daniel Jones hasn’t enjoyed a full game with his entire arsenal of weapons since his inception in the NFL last year. A poor offensive line and lack of talent around him has severely limited his progression up to this point. Hopefully, he can return to full health and pick up where he left off next year.

New York Giants Fear Saquon Barkley Knee Injury Is ACL Tear

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

An ACL tear is possible to recover from, but it’s also one of the most feared injuries in sports. Positions such as running back, wide receiver, and linebacker are extra liable to get that injury thanks to their constant movement and the stress put on their knees. And according to Adam Schefter, the Giants fear that Saquon Barkley tore his ACL on Sunday.

The verdict isn’t in yet about the injury but it doesn’t look good. Until there’s further tests, we won’t have a full picture of the situation. But an ACL tear isn’t out of the realm of possibility, according to the report. If that is the case, Barkley will be out for the rest of the season.

How an ACL tear may affect Barkley

The surgery required to fix an ACL tear involves replacing the ACL with a graft taken from a different source. The athlete must then regain their full range of motion through rehab. The recovery timeline usually has at least six months between the surgery and getting back to practice.

That’s not to say that everything is gloom and doom. A lot of players have bounced back from the injury. That includes Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, and even Giants pass rusher Markus Golden. There’s no doubt we’ll see Barkley on the field again, and he’ll probably still be just as threatening of a running back to opposing defenses.

However, it may change what the Giants and other teams think about Barkley’s longevity. The Giants are midway through Barkley’s contract, and whether or not the team gives him a huge extension may depend on how long they think he’ll last in the league – and that’s impacted by health.

Other options for the Giants

Right now, the Giants only have limited alternative options at running back. Luckily, they brought in Dion Lewis during the offseason to back Barkley up. Having a true backup for Barkley looks like a smart decision now, but Lewis only registered 20 rushing yards in 10 attempts during the Bears game.

It doesn’t look like Dion Lewis is the main man for the Giants during the 2020 season. 28 year old former Falcons back Devonta Freeman is set to visit the Eagles, but after the injury to Barkley, the Giants may want to consider him as an option if they can reach a deal.

There’s not so many other options that can walk in and become the number one running back, so if the Giants can afford the cap space, they may want to make a deal. Otherwise, we may be looking at a season where the running back position is played by committee.

Lewis, Gallman Ready to Step Up After Barkley Injury

The New York Giants are likely to be without star running back for the reminder of the season. Especially if the reports about his injury are correct. A torn ACL wold require surgery and extensive rehab.

Head coach Joe Judge would not speak to the extent of the injury after the Giants 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

“I don’t have a diagnosis on his knee,” Judge told reporters. “He’s going to see some doctors tomorrow. We’ll wait and see what that is. Obviously we’re all praying for the best. I would just say this, regardless of whatever the outcome is going to be and what the doctors say tomorrow. I wouldn’t fall asleep on 26, it’s going to be a hell of a story either way.”

The Giants have just three healthy running backs on the active roster: Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman and fullback Eli Penny. They also have Rod Smith on the practice squad, but they will be in the market for running back depth come Monday when they get the diagnosis on Barkley’s knee.

Until then, the Giants will have to go with that trio. Gallman was not active on Sunday (a healthy scratch) but those days are over now. Lewis got the call after Barkley went down, gaining just 20 yards on ten carries but did score the Giants’ only touchdown on the afternoon. He also caught four passes for 36 yards. Lewis was asked if he was prepared for the heavy workload on Sunday.

“Gotta stay ready,” he said. “I prepare every week, all week, like I’m going to be in there every play because you never know what’s going to happen. So, I always stay prepared and, unfortunately, I had to go out there a little more than I normally would have to, but I was ready.”

Asked if he spoke to Barkley, Lewis said that he did.

“Yeah, I spoke with him,” said Lewis. “I just told him to keep his head up, stay positive, believe in God. Nobody knows what’s really going on right now, so just try to keep his head up. He’s a great kid, and we’ve grown extremely close since I’ve been here, so you know, definitely feel for him.”

Looking towards the future, Lewis forecasted what the running backs plan on handling the loss of Barkley.

“It’s going to take all of us. We got Wayne, myself, we all gotta step up. Obviously, you know, Saquon is one of the best running backs in this league, so nobody’s going to be able to do what he does, what he’s done. We gotta do what we can do, be ourselves, and do whatever the coaches ask us to do and work hard every day.

I mean, he’s Saquon Barkley, so you lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss. But you know, as a team, everybody’s gotta step up. Receivers gotta step up, O-line’s gotta step up, running backs have gotta step up, quarterback’s gotta step up, defense has gotta step up, everybody has gotta step up. It’s not going to be one person who steps up to make up for what he’s done, it’s going to take all of us.”

That may not be enough. The Giants may have to explore a trade if they can’t find any options on the waiver wire.

 

 

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley picks up bad knee injury, update

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants entered week two against the Chicago Bears with a heightened sense of pressure. After a tough week one loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, elevating their game and proving their worth was a necessity.

For new head coach Joe Judge, he has routinely seen teams take a significant step forward from week one to two, but through one half, the Giants haven’t seen that jump.

In the second quarter, Saquon Barkley was tackled and jammed up his elbow. In what seemed to be nothing more than an over-extension, the very next play for Barkley resulted in something much worse. After a jump cut into the outside, Barkley fell to the ground near the sideline after being tackled by a Bears defender. He took his helmet off and was screaming in pain, and was taken out of the game immediately.

According to the Giants, Barkley was taken for x-rays in the locker room. This is a significant blow to an offense that heavily relied on his explosive playmaking ability. However, it is undoubtedly a test for Dion Lewis and Wayne Garman, despite the former Clemson standouts inactive status against Chicago.

In week one for Saquon, he only tallied 6 yards on the ground, but was a bit better through the air, logging 60 yards. Against Chicago, he already had 28 yards rushing, averaging 7 yards per carry.

Saquon Handles Tiki Comments With Class

Saquon Barkley

No NFL player likes to be criticized by former players, especially in the media. This week, when former New York Giants great Tiki Barber said on his radio program that Saquon Barkley may not be a “three-down back” because of his poor blocking, many thought a cold war between the two would form.

That didn’t happen. Barkley has taken Barber’s comments as constructive criticism rather than disrespect or jealousy. Barber holds all of the Giants’ career rushing records and Barkley poses a threat to break those and Tiki has even predicted that will happen.

“Obviously, Tiki is a legend. He has done a lot of great things for this franchise. I’m not going to look at it as disrespect, I’m going to look at it as a challenge,” said Barkley on Thursday. “Same thing with him, like everyone else, I really don’t care about outside opinions. I’m really focused about the opinions in this building. Try to come to work every single day and get better.”

Barkley rushed for just six yards on 15 attempts against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. In addition, Barkley got caught up in the poor blocking scheme and performance the Giants displayed in the game, missing some blocks and looking as if he was overmatched.

Barkley dismissed the notion that he is focusing on his blocking’s more than the other aspects of his game as a result of Monday’s showing.

“No, I come to work every single day with the mindset, try to improve in everything. Focus on the little things. Whatever the drill is, focus on that. If it’s the pass game, focus on catching the ball. If it’s pass pro, if it’s run game, focus on making the run cuts and the right reads. When I’m in the open field, work on my moves and work on finishing scoring touchdowns. I know this is going to be the question or the kind of the theme of this media session about my pass pro. I understand that I probably made some mistakes in pass pro and I put it on film. I know it’s going to keep coming, people are going to keep challenging me. It’s a good way to keep me in and stop me from getting to open space and making plays there, too, also. I just have to keep working at it, keep getting better and that’s going to be my same answer for the rest of the pass pro questions. Thank you, guys.”

Barkley said he has not addressed the issue with Barber, instead just taking it as advice, which it was likely meant to be since the two have had a good relationship in the past.

“No, I didn’t,” said Barkley. “I guess he addressed something on his show, which is his God-given right. He has an opinion, he voiced his opinion. Like I said, it’s his opinion to have. I’m going to take it more as a challenge than disrespect and just focus on myself and focus on everyone here in this building.”

Barkley is not about to let Monday’s game get into his head. He did catch six passes for 60 yards in the game, so it wasn’t a total turkey of an effort. Head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett have not discussed the issue with Barkley. As far as everyone is concerned, its just something that needs to be worked on like every other aspect of his game.

“It happened. The game happened,” Barkley said. “I had 15 carries for six yards. I think I tied for the second-lowest of all time with 15 carries or more. Guess what? I came to work this week with a smile on my face, ready to work and ready to get better. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you praise me or you say negative things about me. I’m not going to use that motivation because my motivation is to be great myself. I don’t need you guys to push me that way. I need to focus on myself and try building up myself. This week, there’s no extra motivation. There’s no this or that or the third. It’s just try to come in and get the W for the Giants.”

And that should be the end of that.

 

 

 

New York Giants: Tiki Barber Explains How Saquon Barkley Can Bounce Back After Criticism

New York Giants, Tiki Barber

Saquon Barkley drew plenty of attention for the wrong reason when the New York Giants opened with a loss. He only had six rushing yards, leaving Daniel Jones as the team’s leading rusher after the first game. The performance drew some interesting words from former Giants back Tiki Barber, who said Barkley’s blocking is a liability. He also said Barkley shouldn’t be on the field for third down, due to that blocking problem.

More recently, however, Tiki expanded on his comments. He also spoke about what Barkley will have to do to get over some current problems. According to him, it’s something the running back needs to work out with his coaches.

Barkley’s problem is one for coaches to fix

When asked about whether or not he was going to reach out to Barkley to offer help, Barber said no. He also explained his reasoning – back during his own career, working with his coaches worked better for him.

“I hearken this back to when I had fumbling issues and a media member sat down with me and said ‘Tiki, you have a fumbling problem and I’m going to write about it.’ And I was like ‘what the hell are you talking about?’ He made me aware of it,” Barber told CBS Sports.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it or really aware of it. It was alarming, but it rose my awareness about it and made me self-conscious about it. I didn’t know how to fix it and it continued for a couple years until Tom Coughlin and my RB coach Jerald Ingram came in. You need your coach to help you do that. It would be wrong for me to try and help Saquon fix this. It’s his coach’s job to fix it just like it was Jerald Ingram’s job to fix my fumbling issue.”

The Giants have a good staff in place to help Barkley improve on his week one performance. Jason Garrett is known for having worked well in Dallas with Ezekiel Elliot, while running backs coach Burton Burns has a track record of working with NFL caliber players at Alabama.

With Barkley only racking up six yards in the opener, the Giants will surely focus on changing up their running game in week two and getting him better chances. That, though, isn’t entirely in Barkley’s hands. Regardless of how well Barkley studies between weeks, the offensive line will have to provide more openings for the result to change for the better against Chicago.

New York Giants: A More Creative Rushing Attack Is The Key To A Win Against Chicago

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

The New York Giants‘ rushing attack was shut down in Week One of the 2020 NFL season. The Giants were handed a disappointing loss on Monday night against the stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in the league and they absolutely suffocated Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ offensive line.

Saquon Barkley is under criticism this week for his performance as a pass-blocker in Week One. But all are aware of the fact that Saquon is one of the best running backs in the NFL when his offensive line does their job. On Monday night, they did not do their job, and the Giants’ offense suffered from the offensive line’s poor performance.

But is it fair to put all of the blame on the offensive line? This line features a rookie left tackle, a starting center who has never before played that position, and a newly-signed swing tackle starting at right tackle. The lack of continuity across the offensive line led to a multitude of negative rushing attempts. But the offensive line does not deserve all of the blame for the team’s pitiful rushing attack in Week One. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett deserves some blame, too, and he needs to implement a more creative rushing attack in order to beat the Chicago Bears in Week Two.

A Lack Of Creativity

The Giants’ rushing attack in Week One lacked creativity. New York’s running plays were predictable, which is why the Steelers seemed to be in the backfield often before the ball was handed off.

Saquon Barkley was given fifteen rushing attempts in Week One. Of these fifteen attempts, eight of them went wide right and five of them went inside right (according to Next Gen Stats). The Giants barely ran the ball to the left side of the line. One attempt went inside left and one attempt went wide left. For the Giants to only run the ball to the left side of the offensive line twice on fifteen attempts is almost inexplicable.

On the left side of the line are arguably the Giants’ two best run-blocking offensive linemen. Andrew Thomas was an elite run-blocker at Georgia and Will Hernandez is now a veteran left guard. Only thirteen percent of Saquon’s rushing attempts followed these two excellent run-blockers.

An even more perplexing statistic relates to the Giants’ usage of pre-snap motion. Across the NFL, the teams with the best rushing attacks emphasize the usage of pre-snap motion (the Ravens, Chiefs, and 49ers are known to lead the league in pre-snap motion percentage). On Monday night, the Giants utilized snap motion on only 1.6% of their offensive snaps. They used all forms of pre-snap motion on a league-lowest 9.4% of the time.

This lack of creativity in the run-game led to a 15 attempt, 6-yard rushing performance by Saquon Barkley. Saquon is an uber-talented player, but he will only go as far as his offensive line and offensive coordinator allow him. In need of a win in Week Two, the Giants need to emphasize the utilization of a more creative rushing attack in order to allow Saquon Barkley to dominate the Bears’ defense.

Jason Garrett Addresses Tiki Barber’s Criticism of Saquon Barkley

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

Former New York Giants great Tiki Barber’s comments regarding Saquon Barkley’s ability to block preventing him from becoming a complete back did not go unnoticed by the team, the fans and surely did not get past offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Garrett, who was a backup quarterback for the Giants for four seasons in the early 2000s, was a teammate of Barbers and knows the criticism of Barkley is likely constructive. Garrett was asked on Thursday about Barber’s assessment that if Barkley can’t sufficiently block, he has to come off the field on third downs.

“Great respect for Tiki, first of all,” Garrett said. “He was a teammate of mine. I’ve known him for a long time and I really respect him as a person and as a player in this league. Having said that, we really try to focus on what we need to do with our guys and do internal evaluations of how they play.”

Class answer from a class guy. Garrett then delve into he root of the problem identified by Barber, who unfortunately, is likely correct in his analysis.

“One of the things we love about Saquon is his desire to be a complete back. That’s running the football, both inside and outside, as a pass receiver and also as a pass protector. Having said that, he can improve in all areas. That’s something that we like so much about him, is his desire to come in and get better and strive to be a complete back. There were some examples of him blocking well in the passing game the other night. There were some examples of him not blocking as well as he needs to. He knows that. We’re working on that, we’re trying to get him better in that area. But we love his approach, we love his desire to be a complete back, and that’s going to help him and our team going forward.”

We’ll see if Barkley picks up his game. The Steelers’ rush was non-stop on Monday night and everyone on the line struggled to pick up blitzes and blew assignments. Barkley was as guilty as any of them. The Giants will need that to change of they are to have any chance at turning their fortunes around.

New York Giants: One Statistic Tells The Story Of The Pittsburgh Game

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

There’s a lot of statistics in the NFL, and sometimes you can boil a game down to one of them. The New York Giants’ season opener, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is one of those games. There’s a lot of takes to be had here. You can say the Giants allowed Big Ben to pass too much on them. Or that Daniel Jones shouldn’t have turned over the ball. But if you really want to get to the bottom of the result, look no further than one statistic.

That stat is Saquon Barkley’s rushing yards – only six. That sounds like hyperbole, but that’s not the case. Barkley really did only have six yards, and it’s not entirely his fault. The offensive line didn’t do him favors in this game, though that was expected to a certain extent.

The Giants were debuting a new offensive line in this game, after all. And one of the players they intended to have around as a starter, Nate Solder, opted out before the season. There’s valid reasons to complain about Solder’s play, but the line didn’t improve without him there.

Saquon Barkley’s take on the situation

Barkley usually takes the high road with reporters and that’s what he did following this result. He praised the Steelers defense, leaving out any remarks about the blocking.

“I’m not really too concerned with the stats. You have to give credit where credit is due. They have a great defense, especially their defensive front. They made some plays and we weren’t able to win the game today,” Barkley told the media.

He also claims that watching film will prevent the large number of backfield hits from being repeated next game.

“We just have to go back and watch the film and learn. Something I’m proud about with the team today is the way we fought, especially when we were hit with adversity. We just have to go back and watch film, continue to believe in each and come ready to work next week and get ready for Chicago.”

A better showing in week two at Chicago?

There’s a reason not to panic yet, however. Like Barkley claimed, the Steelers do have one of the top defenses in the league. Their defensive front was a concern heading into this game. Most games won’t be like this one, against a team like Pittsburgh. The Giants were also playing their first game under a new head coach, as well as a new offensive coordinator. Hiccups usually happen in games like this.

However, the Giants should have one thing in mind in week two: getting Saquon Barkley more rushing yardage. There’s only so many weapons the Giants have on offense, and a key to victory will be ensuring that they use all of them properly.

Against Pittsburgh, Barkley hardly had a chance to shine. And that showed in the final result.