The New York Giants are licking their wounds after a week one thrashing at the hands of divisional the Dallas Cowboys, things look bleak for Eli Manning and co. However, there are a few positives to take away from the week one loss, most notably the performance of the best running back in the NFL – Saquon Barkley.
Coming out of a disappointing loss, one of the biggest questions on Giants fans minds was surrounding Barkley’s low usage rate. Barkley’s final stat line on Sunday consisted of 120 yards off of 11 carries with an astonishing 10.91 yards per carry (YPC.) If Barkley was averaging a first down a carry why wouldn’t Pat Shurmur keep feeding Barkley the ball?
Well, if Barkley had received the ball more than 11 times then that incredible YPC number would have most likely decreased to Barkley’s average mean. With that in mind, lets proceed.
The Giants used Barkley effectively on their opening drive. Barkley’s first touch perfectly encapsulated everything that makes Barkley the best running back in the NFL. The Giants line up in bunch formation with Manning under centre. The rush is designed so that Barkley will hit the ‘B Gap’, the space in between the tackle and the left-guard, however, Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch clogs that hole.
Barkley adjusts superbly and explodes off the left side for a 53 yard gain. Further on that drive Barkley carries the ball in the red zone, this time still out of bunch but to the right B Gap. Barkley gets tackled at the 1 yard line. Following play, Giants use Barkley in play-action successfully as Eli rolls out and hits tight end Evan Engram for the touchdown.
Something to keep an eye on this season is the Giants running out of bunch formation. Throughout the game the Giants had great success running the ball out of bunch with gains of 53 yards, 7 yards, 11 yards and 11 yards.
In this match up against the Cowboys, the Giants were going up against a top five defence in the NFL. The fight between Barkley and Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch was enthralling stuff. Unfortunately for Barkley, the Giants got down 35-10 midway through the 3rd quarter and were forced to abandon the run game. Couple that with an unexpected dynamite performance from Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and it was a nightmare day for the Giants.
The Giants do have a sneakily good offensive line this season. LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, RG Kevin Zeitler and RT Mike Remmers are all solid starters. Hernandez and Zeitler being the highlights on the interior. The only question mark being C Jon Halapio.
Looking forward to the rest of the Giants season, I do foresee good things for this Giants offence if they commit to the run game. While it’s a valid point that teams will stack the box, thus opening up the pass game for Eli, Barkley is just that good. Barkley is that special type of player that transcends scheme, a player so good his mere presence reverts the game back to playground football- Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Ladainian Tomlinson. Rare air that only these type of players can breathe.