Are the New York Giants leaning too heavily on star running back Saquon Barkley?
This theory started circulating online after Barkley recorded a career-high 31 rushing attempts in a Week 4 win over the Chicago Bears. When asked whether he has any concerns about his rising workload this week, Barkley provided an unfiltered answer.
Here’s a clip of the exchange, via SNY Giants on Twitter:
“I’ve missed so many games the last couple of years,” Barkley said. “Me complaining about touches or being worried about touches, that would be just stupid of me to be completely honest.
“I’m just blessed. I’m happy I get to go out there and play the sport that I love. I keep saying it, I just want to go out there and make plays and try to help my team win games. If that means 30 touches, then that means 30 touches. If that means only five touches, then it’s only five touches. Whatever I can do to put my team in position to win games, that’s what I’m willing to do.”
Barkley, who missed 21 games due to injury from 2019-2021, has powered New York’s 3-1 start to the 2022 season. His usage in Week 4 against the Bears was unique, though. The Giants were already leaning on the run game heavily due to a lack of viable receiving threats, but when starting quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle) and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor (concussion) both went down, head coach Brian Daboll used Barkley as an emergency quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
Including his two receptions, Barkley finished with 33 total touches for 162 yards from scrimmage against the Bears.
Will the Giants Continue to Give Barkley 30-Plus Touches Per Game?
While Saquon Barkley is now tied for the NFL lead with 99 total touches through four games, you can’t look at what happened in the Bears game as the new norm. That was a unique set of circumstances that led to Barkley handling an abnormally large workload.
Over the first three weeks of the season, Barkley rushed more than 20 times just once (Week 2 vs. Carolina). He averaged 22 total touches per game over that span. He averaged exactly 22 touches per game during his 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, and his career average before this season was 19.3 touches per game.
At the moment, Barkley’s Week 4 workload looks like an anomaly. But moving forward, the Giants should avoid making it a dangerous habit by becoming more balanced on offense.
How Will the Giants Use Barkley Against the Packers in London?
He may not surpass 30 touches, but Saquon Barkley will probably have a busy day against the Green Bay Packers in London this weekend. The Giants are extremely thin at wide receiver, and it remains to be seen how mobile Daniel Jones will be a week removed from his ankle injury.
The Packers rank 22nd in the NFL against the run (126.8 rushing yards allowed per game), but they’ve only allowed one player to go for over 100 yards on the ground against them this season: Bears running back David Montgomery, who had 122 rushing yards versus Green Bay in Week 2.
The Giants may need to spread the ball around on offense in order to get the best of the Packers in London.