The Giants are looking for a little more Wayne Gallman in Saquon Barkley.
It sounds blasphemous to say given the two running backs’ credentials, but the Giants are trying to walk the fine line with Barkley by asking him to commit more to north-south running — like his former backup Gallman did last season — without taking away his knack for creating something out of nothing.
“You don’t want to take the Saquon out of Saquon,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Thursday. “We’ve talked a lot about dirty runs — 4- and 5-yard runs that nobody talks about but put you in a manageable second-down and third-down situation. He did that the other day. It’s important for us to be able to do that.”
Barkley took just two of 23 carries longer than 5 yards during the first two games. He had five last week, but, with a long of 15, most were in the mid-yardage range so often missing from his all-or-nothing style.
“A lot of 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-yard runs that nobody talks about were positive runs,” Garrett said. “In an effort to do that, you never want to take away his ability to make big plays. The space plays that he makes are dynamic. He’s done that ever since he’s been in the league. We know the challenge that presents. We want to be physical. We want to be downhill. He’s a part of that.”
It’s a conversation that has followed Barkley for most of his four years in the NFL, but it was amplified this week because the Giants are 0-3 and have scored touchdowns on just three of nine trips into the red zone. He is averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry.
“It’s time for them now to have that blunt conversation with Saquon,” Giants radio analyst Carl Banks said this week on WFAN, “and say, ‘You have to stick your cleats in the ground and get north-and-south. When you have a convoy of blockers in front of you on a power sweep, get in the pocket of one of those blockers and ride it out. Do not get impatient and think you have to break away from that.’
Banks continued, “The one thing he has to understand right now as a powerful, quick, fast runner who can do a lot of different things, he is taking pressure off of the defense with his running style right now.”
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