What a bounce-back year for Saquon Barkley means for the NY Giants
By Toby Grundy
Year 2 after an ACL tear
Barkley tore his ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. It saw him miss the remainder of that year, as well as a significant time in the offseason leading up to 2021. There is reason to be optimistic, however, that 2022 will be the year he finally returns to the form he showed prior to the injury. In decades gone by, an ACL tear likely represented a career-ending or at least altering injury. With the advances in modern medicine and sports science, that is no longer the case.
Barkley will be looking to follow in the footsteps of many NFL stars who have torn their ACL and returned to action. The likes of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski should provide optimism that a return to success in the NFL is possible for Barkley.
The most motivation for the star running back, however, will be that of Adrian Peterson. After tearing his ACL in the 2011 season, Peterson returned in 2012 to post a career-high 2,097 rushing yards on his way to the 2012 MVP award. That’s not the only reason Barkley could bounce back.
Improved NY Giants offensive line
Running back is a position which relies on other pieces of the offense to see sustained success, in particular the offensive line. You can have the most talented back in the world, but if the defense is already in the backfield by the time he touches the ball, there’s not much he can do – a sentence that sums up Barkley’s last two seasons in New York.
According to NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football”, since 2020., Barkley has had the highest percentage of runs that ended in zero or negative yards. A statistic which is attributed to the running back but is equally, if not more, a reflection on poor blocking up front. The Giants’ line isn’t all of a sudden world-beating of course, but it has certainly been a point of emphasis this offseason.
Schoen invested his limited free agency capital in players such as Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano as well as the unit being a clear target over the draft weekend. Blue-chip right tackle Evan Neal was selected on Day , as well as later-round pieces who should act as depth pieces in 2022 and beyond. While it is yet to be seen just how much better this unit is, it is fair to assume it will be a significant upgrade over the 2021 line Barkley played behind under Jason Garrett.