The New York Giants are in the midst of another difficult campaign in 2021.
Their misery was only compounded by a road loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Starting quarterback Daniel Jones missed the game with a neck injury, and the team really struggled against an aggressive Dolphins defense.
It isn’t like the Giants offense was cooking with gas before the Miami game, but their lackluster offensive output so far this year has been disappointing.
New York is the only team not to score 30 points in a game this season.
Running back Saquon Barkley was supposed to be the matchup-proof answer to all of the Giants’ problems.
He was selected with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the organization showed a lot of faith in his ability by investing that type of capital in him.
Looking at his career objectively and holistically, Barkley’s impact hasn’t been that dramatic for a Giants team that needed him to live up to superstar billing.
Receiving Outlet Out Of The Backfield
During his rookie year, it seemed like Barkley would be destined for a Le’Veon Bell-like dominant stretch as a dual threat.
Not only did the former Penn State Nittany Lions star rack up 1,307 rushing yards on the ground, he caught 91 passes in his inaugural NFL campaign.
That receiving production dipped significantly in 2019, his last somewhat healthy season.
He had at least two drops in the contest, making reserve quarterback Mike Glennon’s life more difficult than it needed to be.
Two drops by Saquon Barkley are troubling.
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) December 5, 2021
He’ll surely have better days, but he can’t be called an elite pass catcher, even for a running back, at this juncture anymore.
Coming out of college, Barkley looked like the type of player that could handle the grind of an NFL season.
Much was made of his sturdy physique, and quadriceps that looked like they could power through most arm tackles.
Throughout the first two years of his career, that optimism was well founded, as he appeared in 29 out of a possible 32 regular season games.
In 2020, he got hurt in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, and the ACL tear he suffered in that contest cost him the rest of the campaign.
He hasn’t missed any games in 2021 due to the recovery from that injury last year, but his production has been largely underwhelming.
Barkley has yet to clear 60 rushing yards in a game this year, and also missed time with an ankle injury.
It’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be able recapture his initial form with the consistent wear and tear he has endured.
How does Saquon Barkley deal with the perception of him being an injury-prone player?
"There's going to be adversity – not just as a football player, but in anything you do in life…you've got to ignore the noise, put your head down and keep working and have faith" pic.twitter.com/WboqMcYzBl
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) November 19, 2021
Home Run Threat
Initially, the idea for the Giants was to get the ball into Barkley’s hands, regardless of how it happened.
Tosses, screens, traditional handoffs, slant passes—any time he possessed the ball, he was a threat to take it the distance.
This level of potency with the ball was evident in his first two years in the league, averaging a combined 4.8 yards per carry during that span.
In the ensuing two years, he has only averaged 2.8 yards per tote.
While injuries may have played a factor in that decline, it has to be concerning for the Giants that the player who was supposed to be the centerpiece of their franchise isn’t even managing league average production on the ground.