The New York Giants have a whole new identity under head coach Joe Judge.
While the team did finish 6-10 in 2020, it was clear the attitude in town has changed under his leadership.
It is also easy to forget the Giants were without star running back Saquon Barkley for nearly all of last season.
He tore his ACL in Week 2 and was in recovery ever since.
Barkley is finally set to make his return this week in what is a monumental boost for the team.
The Giants expect Saquon Barkley to pass his physical today, be activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and begin practicing with team, source confirms, as @NYPost_Schwartz reported.
Encouraging development for Saquon on the road back from ACL surgery.
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 9, 2021
The Giants need a healthy Barkley on the field this season to compete for a playoff spot, and he can finally get his career going again after such a major setback.
A Fast Start
Barkley was the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 and that alone was a bit of a controversial move.
Would the Giants rather have Josh Allen right now?
The past is the past, so let’s look at what Barkley has done.
He showed up in 2018 and rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He also added 721 yards as a receiver with four more touchdowns.
Barkley proved he could do it all and the Giants had to be thrilled.
His production dropped in 2019, but he also only appeared in 13 games that year.
The team was also a total mess under Pat Shurmur, so stats from that year are easy to gloss over.
2020 was supposed to be the year for Barkley to get back to his 2018 ways.
His injury robbed him of that so the focus turns to 2021.
Barkley should get an automatic 1,000 yards on the ground, if healthy, and should once again be used as a weapon in the passing game.
He had 121 targets in 2018 and that should be the norm for someone of his skill level.
Baby Steps In New York
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 6, 2021
The Giants have been terrible for much of the past decade.
The last winning season was in 2016 and since then, the six wins in 2020 represent the highest total in a single season.
Judge is trying to change that and is hoping Barkley can help lead the cause.
But his selection in the first place was controversial because the Giants needed a quarterback.
Can Daniel Jones be that franchise guy?
He is now entering his third NFL season and we saw guys like Allen and Baker Mayfield take a huge leap in that third year.
If Jones shows any regression, it may not matter what Barkley is doing out of the backfield.
But it is obvious that a healthy Barkley enhances the New York offense and takes some pressure off of Jones to try and be perfect.