NFL Coach Shreds Saquon Barkley, Says He Doesn’t Know How to Play RB

Saquon Barkley

Getty New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is facing some harsh criticism.

Former No. 2 overall draft pick Saquon Barkley is entering a make-or-break year with the New York Giants.

A few years ago, Barkley was widely considered one of the best running backs in the NFL. Back in 2018, he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after leading the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,028.

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The three seasons since then have been uninspiring for Barkley. He has struggled to stay healthy, and his reputation as one of the top backs in the game has taken a major hit as a result.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in ESPN’s ranking of the Top 10 running backs heading into the 2022 season. Barkley only made the list as an honorable mention, and one anonymous NFL coach who was quoted for the piece absolutely shredded Barkley’s game.

Here’s what ESPN wrote about Barkley (emphasis added):

Barkley was No. 1 on this list two years ago, but his decline has been precipitous. Injuries have cost him 22 games over four seasons, but that’s hardly the only issue with his game. In 2021, he produced just 593 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 162 carries. “I’m down on him — he still doesn’t know how to play running back enough,” a veteran NFL offensive coach said. “He’s a bouncer. He wants every run to be a home run. He’s going to have to learn that 4-yard runs in this league are good, instead of stopping, cutting it back and losing 2. And he gets his ass kicked in protection.”

That may be the harshest criticism you’ll ever read on Barkley, so it’s no wonder the “veteran NFL offensive coach” chose to stay anonymous.

Barkley, 25, was most successful under former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur (2018-19). He was mostly injured/ineffective under Shurmur’s replacement, Joe Judge (2020-21), and is now learning another new offense under first-year head coach Brian Daboll.

Daboll has an offensive plan to move Barkley all over the field and use him more as a pass catcher in 2022. Daboll has a history of unleashing talented running backs, after guiding Reggie Bush (who faced similar criticism between the tackles) to a career year when he was the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins back in 2011.

Giants Have a Better Record Without Saquon Barkley

There are a lot of stats you can point to that illustrate Saquon Barkley’s struggles, but the most damning one might be the team’s record with/without him in the lineup.

Dan Duggan of The Athletic crunched the numbers and found that the Giants have a 9-32 (.220) record when Barkley plays and finishes the game, compared to a 9-12 (.428) record when he does not play. Games where Barkley left early due to injury were not included in this calculation.

Either way you cut it, the Giants are a losing team. But you can’t point to the win-loss record to prove that Barkley makes them more competitive.

Saquon Barkley Still a Popular Team MVP Pick

Despite the diminishing hype, multiple outlets are still picking Saquon Barkley to be the Giants’ team MVP this season.

Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports recently predicted the MVP for each NFC team and highlighted Barkley for the Giants, arguing that he was “one of the game’s most dynamic players” before injuries slowed him down.  Kevin Patra did the same for, claiming that Barkley is still a “dual-threat weapon who can control games” for the Giants in 2022.

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28 days ago

Well, it all depends on how bad Barkley wants to remain in the NFL or at the very least as a NY Giants player. This is a make-or-break year for him as well as Daniel Jones but Barkley has far less to memorize than Jones and either he knows how to run and block at this point of his career or he doesn’t IMO. Too many times last year I watched Barkley get the ball, run up to the line and stop dead, the one thing he should NEVER do as a running back. Either find a hole and get through it, change direction and go, dive over the line, put your shoulder down and plow through like the 220+lb man he’s supposed to be, or sit on the sideline and let someone who isn’t afraid to get hurt do it instead. My grandmother who would be well over 100 years old had she still been alive would have told him to ‘shit or get off the pot’ and I couldn’t agree with her more lol

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