Not much has gone right for Saquon Barkley in his return from ACL surgery. Aside from being ready in time for the opener, Barkley hasn’t given Giants fans much to get excited about this season. The former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has looked to be stuck in first-gear for much of his 2021 campaign, averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
Of course, operating behind one of football’s most inept offensive line units certainly doesn’t help his cause. However, Barkley’s struggles have also seeped into the passing game, as his six (official) dropped passes are tied for third-most in the NFL. He’s failed to surpass 64 yards rushing in any game this season, has scored just two rushing touchdowns over his last 13 games and has many — including former Giants Super Bowl heroes — calling for him to be supplanted on the depth chart by veteran Devontae Booker.
Barkley’s disappointing season continued in the Giants’ 34-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. The Penn State product mustered up just 32 yards rushing on the afternoon and was once again outperformed by Booker, who outpaced Barkley by 2.4 yards more per attempt. However, since then, the talk in East Rutherford revolving around Barkley has been far less about his on-field struggles against Philly, and more so about his off-field behavior after.
Barkley Taking Heat for Avoiding Media
Following the Giants’ fourth consecutive loss, Barkley was nowhere to be seen during postgame media availability. The team captain avoided the podium altogether this past Sunday, instead allowing Booker and the underwhelming quarterback duo of Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon to shoulder the scrutiny regarding the offense’s inept showing. Come Monday, Barkley was once again a no-show for reporters, despite numerous requests for him to speak.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan was not particularly fond of Barkley’s behavior, calling it a “bad look” for one of the more respected players on the Giants roster.
“Saquon Barkley not making himself available to talk after the game (and day after) despite continual requests + leaving Mike Glennon, Jake Fromm and Devontae Booker to speak for struggling offense post-game is not ideal for a team captain. Blowing off responsibility. Bad look,” Raanan tweeted on December 27.
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Joe Judge Addresses Barkley Situation
Raanan went on to highlight how “Eli Manning used to talk Mondays (only after losses) so other guys wouldn’t have to stand there and take the tough questions. He willingly took it on his own shoulders to take pressure off others.”
On the same day as Raanan’s tweet, head coach Joe Judge was pressed by reporters regarding the same topic, claiming that Barkley is “supposed to be one of your leaders and team captains” and noting that Manning was never one to avoid the heat of the local media.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to who the players are talking to media-wise, but I’ll make sure Pat [Hanlon] (Senior Vice President of Communications) addresses that and we’ll see if there’s anything that needs to be adjusted based on league policy,” Judge said in response.
Judge frankly didn’t seem all too fazed by the situation, giving what appeared to be a reasoning for Barkley’s unavailability.
“I can tell you – because Pat Hanlon and I talked about this kind of walking in the hallway earlier – but I guess there are some reports about him not being available. I can tell you for a fact after the game was over that he was getting his normal treatment and was with the trainers for a good amount of time. Between that, shower, getting dressed, we were obviously driving back on buses, there was a kind of hurried emphasis of getting everybody out of the locker room yesterday. But I saw Saquon in the training room myself…”