As a rookie, Saquon Barkley still has plenty of room to improve. But he has excelled during his first year in the NFL, and the Giants shouldn’t ask him to do too much right now.
At this point in the 2018 NFL season, there is pretty much only one thing keeping the New York Giants from sinking into complete and total irrelevancy, and that is rookie running back Saquon Barkley.
Some might feel the same way about Odell Beckham Jr., but his act has been around for a while now. Barkley’s brilliant running abilities are fresh to the NFL. He’s third in the league in rushing yards with 1,116, and has seven carries of 20 yards or more. To be honest, it’s really the only reason to tune in and watch the 2-7 Giants anymore.
As marvelous as he is on the field, however, the Giants can’t forget that Barkley is still just a rookie. They really aren’t playing for anything but a top three draft pick, and as the Giants just try to get through the remaining games on their schedule, they should remember not to ask too much of the 21-year-old right now.
“He’s had success bouncing runs in the past and gotten big gains out of them,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said, via NFL.com. “But there is also what I call a dirty 4-, 5-, 6-yard run that he has to be willing to take as well. It’s a fine line.”
“There might have been one or two that maybe he could’ve continued to kind of push it up the middle instead of cutting it back,” said offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
That’s all fine and well. Barkley obviously has plenty of room for improvement, as any rookie does. But he’s already lived up to the expectations most football fans had for him when New York selected him with No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, becoming one of the league’s most explosive and dangerous running backs.
The kid’s only problem right now is that he’s stuck on a transitioning team with a lackluster offense and an over-the-hill quarterback in Eli Manning.
In a season that pretty much already ended a long time ago for the Giants, they can’t ask him to do much more than he’s done this season. If they were fighting for a playoff spot, then it would be a completely different story.