The New York Giants struggled across the board against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, but it was expected. With only a shortened training camp to prepare and zero preseason games to refine their talent, the Giants were put in a tumultuous position from the start. However, some of their more reliable players didn’t show up to play, including Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley in specific facets.
Engram simply disappeared on the night, dropping multiple passes and failing to do anything in the run blocking game. Barkley, on the other hand, was a product of his offensive line, who simply couldn’t block for him and open up any holes to run through. However, the third-year running back was awful in pass protection, failing to protect Jones and pick up blitzes from cornerbacks.
Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber has some tough words for Saquon Barkley:
Tikit Barber on Saquon Barkley…
"Saquon Barkley is a great back, but he might not be an every down back. He cannot pass protect. It's becoming glaring & could become a liability"
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) September 16, 2020
Barber made a bold claim, stating that Saquon isn’t an every-down running back if he can’t hold up in pass protection. Ultimately, he’s right.
If the Giants can’t rely on him to help protect Jones, they must take him out on passing downs. In addition, he’s not a pure power runner, but more of an elite scat-back that can bounce the ball outside and make plays out of nothing. He was unable to do so against the Steelers on Monday night, but will hopefully have a better experience against the Chicago Bears and week two.
Saquon actually had a few solid blitz pick-ups last night. But twice he and Andrew Thomas allowed a free rusher when they went to block the same man on CB blitzes. pic.twitter.com/soyaDCsnZs
— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) September 15, 2020
Check out the play above, where Barkley gets stuck behind Andrew Thomas and completely whiffed on a cornerback blitz. This is running back 101 in pass protection, filling the open gap that he misses severely. If the CB takes the outside route, Jones can step up into the pocket, but Saquon simply doesn’t move and stays behind Andrew Thomas. He will be kicking himself in the film room, but hopefully will provide a better sample size of reps in week two. Everyone was shaking off the rust against the Steelers, but so far, his pass protection isn’t promising.
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