The Return of Saquon
It’s no surprise that the Giants’ offense struggled in Saquon Barkley’s absence. Even with strong play from Wayne Gallman, there’s no substitute for a superstar like Barkley. And the offense has no where to go but up once he’s ready.
The Giants’ offense was anemic this season; they were ranked 31st, and had the second-fewest yards, yards per game, total points, and points per game.
New York’s rushing attacked proved to be their only saving grace. They were 19th in the league, with 110.5 yards per game. They also averaged 4.4 yards an attempt, which puts them in the top half of the league.
Looking further, it’s evident that the Giants win when they stick to the run and run effectively. They surpassed 100 total rushing yards in nine games this season. Their record for those games was 6-3.
That was actually better than the 2019 season with Barkley. The Giants rushed fewer times in 2019 than they did in 2020, and had fewer yards per game. Further, the team went 3-6 in the nine games the Giants eclipsed 100 yards.
If 2020 proved anything, it proved that waiting for disaster to strike can only result in further disaster. Preparing for something to go wrong will mean you’re ready for when it does, and by all indication, we have to assume that it’s likely to happen again with Saqon Barkley.
Barkley is the kind of player that will make all those around him better. And instead of imagining an offense in which he’s the only featured back, the Giants would be wise to take a play from the Cleveland Browns’ playbook.
Having two featured running backs will insure the Giants if Barkley goes down. But more importantly, it will increase the the amount of games they can eclipse 100 yards, thus increasing their chances to win.
Cleveland in 2019 had the 12th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL behind Nick Chubb. They had 11 games of 100+ rushing yards, going 5-6 in those games.
But with an offense behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns’ offense moved up to third in 2020. They rushed for more than 100 yards in 13 games this season, going 10-3.
Another added plus to having a secondary back is the ability to give Barkley a break during games. He’s coming off of a devastating injury. And it would be catastrophic if he remains their only option and is forced to play because of a lack of depth at the position.
Getting Barkley back will improve the Giants’ strongest aspect of their offense. And whether it’s Gallman or someone else, it’s exciting to think about how good he could be with a complimentary back.