After two frustrating seasons with Joe Judge leading the charge, the New York Giants finally went out and hired an exciting offensive mind to be their new head coach. They landed former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who is expected to completely overhaul the Giants’ offense moving forward.
Figuring out what to do with quarterback Daniel Jones is at the front of New York’s new to-do list. However, it would be foolish to ignore running back Saquon Barkley from the conversation. The 2018 No. 2 overall pick was once viewed as the best running back in the NFL. However, he’s struggled to even be a league-average runner the past two seasons due to injuries.
Daboll has a plan on how to fix this issue.
Giants HC Brian Daboll wants to start using Saquon Barkley as a receiver
Even with all the injuries over the past two seasons, Barkley is still a valuable athlete who offers a lot of explosiveness on offense. If the Giants are going to keep up with the NFC East this season, Barkley needs to be a part of that conversation.
According to Daboll, the best way to do that is to start featuring Barkley more as a receiver. This gets the ball into his hands while avoiding the high-risk up-the-middle runs.
Specifically with Barkley, it seems Daboll wants to get back to featuring him in the passing game. As a rookie, Barkley had 91 catches (on 121 targets) for 721 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 16 games.
In 28 games since, Barkley has 99 catches (on 139 targets) for 761 yards and four touchdowns.
He’s been hurt a lot the last two years — tearing his ACL in 2020, hurting his ankle in 2021 — but he wasn’t used as much as a receiver for Garrett. Expect that change with Daboll.
“I’d say i’ve had some good running backs in my career,” Daboll said. “But Saquon is a unique guy. If you go back I’ve watched all of his tape all the way back from his rookie year when he had (91) catches. He’s a versatile player … I’m excited to work with him.”Zack Rosenblatt, NJ.com
A healthy Saquon Barkley is a good Saquon Barkley
It’s doubtful Barkley will ever return to his rookie season form, where he totaled 2,028 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns. However, simply keeping him on the field would be a significant win for Daboll, Daniel Jones, and the rest of the Giants’ offense.
New York spent most of the last two seasons relying on random backups to carry the load in the ground game. This made things easy for opposing defensive coordinators to gameplan against. There was never any real threat of Barkley exploding for 20-plus yard gains as he used to in the past.
The Giants have an interesting contract decision to make with their star RB
Not only is a healthy Barkley crucial to the Giants’ season plans in 2022, but it also dramatically impacts how New York approaches the 2023 offseason.
Barkley is in the final year of his rookie contract. A decision needs to be made on his future sooner rather than later.
Barkley exploding back onto the scene as an elite receiving back could have two effects in New York. The Giants could use it as a reason to extend Barkley past 2023. Or, they could use it as a reason to trade him at the trade deadline, while his value is at its highest again.
Either way, this new role for Barkley will be a significant talking point in New York all season long.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.