Saquon Barkley wasn't to blame for a historically poor rushing effort vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. Giants OC Jason Garrett is the problem.
Saquon Barkley said, “I have to do better for the team” after the New York Giants running back rushed for six yards on 15 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
Barkley is being a good teammate, but he’s not the one to blame. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is the real problem.
Garrett had to get Barkley on track, even against a defense as tough as the Steelers’. Instead, what followed plumbed new depths of ineptitude for the struggling Giants:
The presence of Ben Roethlisberger on that list only underscores Barkley’s ineffectiveness.
Barkley beware. Garrett brought his playbook from Dallas with him to New York. Play-calling and design were significant issues when Garrett was head coach of the Cowboys, and the pattern continued with the Giants.
Fielding a suspect offensive line against a powerful Pittsburgh front seven, Garrett opted for a three-tight end offense. The extra tight ends tipped the Giants’ hand that a run from Barkley was coming.
It also didn’t help that Evan Engram and Kaden Smith struggled to block. Neither set the edge, leaving Barkley routinely exposed to tacklers behind the line.
The Steelers naturally focused on Barkley, but their job was made easier by the predictability of the Giants’ offense. Sequences usually went like this: pass on first down, handoff to Barkley on second down.
Everybody on the Steelers D’ knew what was coming. So did people watching, because Garrett was reading from a familiar script.
Similarly, Garrett’s tight end-heavy sets bunched the Giants together and made it easier for the Steelers to stack up against the run. Spreading out the defense with receivers in the slot would’ve made it easier for Barkley to find room inside.
There was also no disguise to the Giants’ running plays. Fellow runners Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman, along with fullback Elijhaa Penny, only played a combined 12 snaps.
Pairing Barkley with Lewis or Gallman would have created doubt among the Pittsburgh defense about who would get the ball. Faking a few jet sweeps and using misdirection would pull attention away from Barkley.
Garrett must get more creative and daring; otherwise, Barkley’s talents will go to waste.