Monday night’s performance wasn’t anywhere near what New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley had in mind for his 2020 debut. He managed just six rushing yards on 15 attempts in the team’s 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was a historically poor outing on the ground for the former No. 2 overall pick. Per Tom Rock of NewsDay, he is just the sixth player since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to manage fewer than 10 yards on 15 or more carries in a game.
It wasn’t all bad for Barkley. He was a major asset in the passing game, tying the team lead with six receptions and finishing second with 60 yards through the air. The lack of a rushing attack was glaring, however.
As a team, New York only managed 29 yards on the ground, with quarterback Daniel Jones managing to pick up 22 yards on four carries. The Steelers outgained the Giants 349 total yards to 291 on the day, and averaged a full yard more per play: 5.5 vs. 4.5.
Saquon Barkley averaged -.67 yards before contact per attempt last night.
Worst of any RB in Week 1. pic.twitter.com/iJjxPTUa5n
— PFF (@PFF) September 15, 2020
“I have to do better,” Barkley said very frankly after the game, per NewsDay. “I have to do better for the team. We have to find a way to get the running game going.”
Of course, he is not fully to blame for being shut down. Barkley was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on 11 of his 15 carries according to ProFootballTalk. That kind of punishment would make it hard for Jim Brown or Barry Sanders to put together a good performance. The Giants’ offensive line has been an issue for years now, and it popped back up on Monday night.
First year head coach Joe Judge doesn’t think one poor performance means the team needs to readjust its offensive philosophy, however.
“Look, we’re going to stay aggressive with the run game,” coach Joe Judge said. “Saquon is a key part of our team, he’s going to be a difference-maker in how successful this team is going to be, so we’re going to stay with him. We have a lot of confidence in him. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in our offensive line . . . We’re going to keep leaning on these guys.”
Things may not get much easier for Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants’ rushing attack over the next few weeks. On Sept. 20, they travel to the Chicago Bears, and host the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers the week after.