Through his first two seasons in the league, Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley has proven to be an elite talent. That wasn’t the case in the New York Giant’s disappointing Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It led to much criticism with former franchise great Tiki Barber making some strong critiques toward Barkley, which saw the star back respond swiftly.
Saquon Barkley struggles in 2020 season opener
In the 2020 season opener, the Giants entered the contest with plenty of high hopes of starting out the campaign on the right foot.
Instead, New York fell 26-16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a much closer game than the final score indicated. However, the Giants struggled to garner any significant traction against the Steelers’ dominant defense. Much of which saw star running back Saquon Barkley have difficulty getting going in the running game.
Pittsburgh bottled him up with just six yards on 15 attempts, which tied for the second-fewest yards by any players with at least 15 carries in a game since the 1970 merger. Barkley had trouble finding any room to run as he averaged just -0.67 yards before contact per rush in Week 1 action.
His struggles led to much criticism that included former Giants great Tiki Barber taking it to the next level.
Tiki Barber doesn’t believe Saquon Barkley is a three-down back
Since Saquon Barkley’s arrival to the Giants, Tiki Barber has been quite high on his future.
Barber has gone as far as saying all his records with the franchise could be broken by Barkley one day. However, the 45-year-old has backtracked a bit by stating that he doesn’t believe the Penn State product is a three-down back because of his struggles blocking.
“It is starting to become glaring. It’s probably the only issue he had to deal with coming into the NFL because he wasn’t asked to do it at Penn State. And you see him diving on the ground, not sticking his head in people’s chests. It’s gonna be a liability. Because people see it now, it’s on tape, and it’s gonna come out.”
Those issues were on display against the Steelers as he missed a few blocks in the game that put his team in rough spots. It’s been an area of Barkley’s skillset that requires needed improvement to help his team further. It may be jumping the bounds a bit from Barber by stating that he isn’t an every-down back.
He has proven that he’s an elite factor as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Blocking happens to be the one area that he has struggled mightily in and can improve. It may be heavy criticism, but it’s a chance for the Pro Bowler to continue to work toward becoming an asset and not a liability in that regard.
Saquon Barkley voices stern response back
It didn’t take long for Saquon Barkley to catch wind of Tiki Barber’s harsh comments.
The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year didn’t shy away from the situation in any regard. He voiced respect for Barber while stating that the only opinion that he cares about is those of his teammates and coaches.
“Obviously Tiki is a legend and has done a lot of great things for this franchise. I’m not going to look at as disrespect. I’m going to look as it as a challenge. Same thing with him, like everyone else, I don’t really care about outside opinions. I am really only focused on the opinions in this building and try to come to work every single day to get better.”
Barkley could have easily lashed back at Barber publicly but chose to take the high road. Instead, it quickly diffuses the situation and shifts the attention back to the 2020 season.
Chance to prove it on the field
Like the rest of his teammates, Saquon Barkley is looking to shake off the disappointment from the Week 1 loss.
Barkley is a significant part of the equation toward their success, which should see a concerted effort to get him going in the running game. His production is a vital part of their offensive game plan that second-year quarterback Daniel Jones feeds off his play.
Yes, improving as a blocker is a necessary part of that solution, but it’s also quite vital for him to be put in spots where he can make plays with the ball in his hands. Only time will tell what lies ahead of Barkley and the Giants in 2020.