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.