The New York Giants running game hasn’t been anything special this season so far. Saquon Barkley made it back by week 1, but it still remains to be seen if his knee is strong enough to keep up with the NFL game after a long recovery process.
After the first two games, Barkley’s numbers have been anything but impressive. He rushed for 57 yards in the Thursday Night Football loss, but the majority of those yards came on a single big run for 41 yards at once. Outside of that run, Barkley didn’t look like the generational prospect the Giants expected from his college tape and healthy rookie season.
With that being said, not everyone blames Barkley himself for his struggles. The Giants have been cautious in utilizing him, and many have accused the coaching staff of not giving him enough touches or being creative enough in getting him the ball. Those critics include former Panthers receiver Steve Smith, who believes the Giants need to put the ball in Barkley’s hands more before a judgement can be made about his explosiveness.
“We will never find out if Saquon Barkley is getting his explosiveness back if all you are doing is sitting back and throwing the ball,” Smith told the New York Post.
“They didn’t do a good job of getting him in rhythm — and this is a wide receiver talking about getting the running game going. It really limited to see how much explosiveness he had or didn’t have. When you drop and throw the ball as much as they are trying to do, it makes things very difficult to judge.”
Should the Giants use Barkley more?
It looks like the Giants might be taking a cautious approach with Barkley to protect him from the risk of reinjury.
However, the current strategy hasn’t done much to inspire confidence in the running game. A common point brought up about the loss to Washington is that the Giants could have ran the clock out while they had a lead, if they were more confident in their ability to move the ball on the ground.
If the Giants really want to get the expected value out of Barkley, they’ll have to get the ball in his hands more. It’s unknown whether having more touches would improve the running back’s numbers. But with the team 0-2 and public sentiment at a low point, the Giants don’t have very much to lose from trying it out.
After all, focusing on the passing attack just hasn’t worked out two weeks in. Even after having what may be his best game, Daniel Jones was unable to lead the Giants to victory on his own after the running game failed to make much happen.