There is no source of measurement to determine just how much the New York Giants missed the offensive production from Saquon Barkley in 2020. But the franchise did. He suffered a torn ACL as well as MCL and meniscus damage in his right knee during a Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Yet, Barkley is making strides in his rehabilitation from this severe injury as the Giants expectations for Saquon Barkley are for him to stay healthy and dominant in 2021.
Giants Expectations for Saquon Barkley: Health and Dominance
There is skepticism concerning whether or not Barkley can stay healthy for an entire season. But he is young enough (24-years old) to become a difference-maker on the field once again. The Giants are banking on him playing all 17 games and any number less would be disastrous for all sides.
Giants head coach Joe Judge will try to ease him into the lineup, but that is an impossible task because of the star’s work ethic. However, do not be surprised if Barkley produces a breakaway run early in his return to the lineup. Such a run would be a reminder of his talent level before the knee injury. Still, the goal is to keep Barkley fresh for late in close games.
A Rookie Season for the Ages
His rookie season was something special as Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards with 11 touchdowns. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 81.7 rushing yards per game. But what surprised everyone was his pass-catching capabilities. Barkley caught 91 passes for 721 yards with four touchdowns. He finished with 2,028 combined yards from scrimmage for the 2018 season.
Barkley’s career start was impressive he finished second in the league in rushing yards, fifth in rushing touchdowns and fifth with the longest run (78 yards) from scrimmage in his rookie season. This type of production shows how his skill level cannot be contained by most NFL defenses. His third NFL season ended abruptly on an outside running play in the second quarter of a match against the Chicago Bears. Barkley was tackled to the ground by Bears safety Eddie Jackson and immediately grabbed for his leg. The injury required season-ending knee surgery.
A Healthy Barkley Could Make Giants Offense Unstoppable
The Giants offense struggled with consistency following Barkley’s departure from the starting lineup. However, the production did move in a positive direction in the second half of the season. The return of the healthy superstar gives Giants fans some hope for an unstoppable offense in 2021.
Offensive production should be significantly better with Barkley on the field. The biggest reason is his versatility to excel in the running and passing game, which helps the offense to become more explosive. Barkley’s pass-catching skills are a perfect complement to the Giants talented receiving group.
His skills will take some time to mesh with the unit’s other stars. But hopefully, not too long as the 2021 Giants offense could go to the next level of efficiency this season. The type of production the Giants will host as Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram take the field together at the same time could be the beginning signs of an anticipated return to the top of the N.F.C. East.
Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett hopes to create one-on-one situations that utilizes Barkley’s skill set against a defender. His expected production could put him in the conversation for Comeback Player of the Year honors. However, team success is predicated on having a balanced offensive attack. If so, the Giants will contend for an NFC East Division title.
But to achieve this lofty goal, Barkley must stay a part of the equation.