Giants’ O-Line Can Sole Barkley’s Pass- Blocking Issues
Tiki Barber’s criticism of Saquon Barkley’s pass protection shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Barkley obviously has some issues in his blocking, but it shouldn’t be a major concern. His array of talents overshadow his deficiency (ies). That’s how it is with franchise backs. Barber should know.
Instead, it should be about the blocking in front of Barkley. Open the middle and the lanes.
His six yards on 15 carries against Pittsburgh last week was the evidence. Barkley was productive out of the backfield with six catches for 60 yards.
It will come down to how center Nick Gates and tackles Mekhi Becton and Cameron Fleming develop over the next couple of months. That could spell some interesting Sundays ahead for Barkley.
Overall with steady guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez, the line was spinning on their heels from the Steelers’ blitzkrieg and bulrush that could carry them to the Super Bowl this season.
Gates need to be more of an anchor in the middle, while Becton held his own and Fleming had an adequate showing. Three new bodies up front will take some time to mesh.
Barkley won’t face a defense that is as stifling as Pittsburgh’s in Chicago Sunday afternoon, but he again will be challenged.
Chicago is glad to return home after they escaped with a 27-23 victory in Detroit last week in which their defense gave up 426 total yards, 138 yards on the ground.
Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, their thunderous pass-rushing duo, both were limited in practice Thursday.
Sounds like good news, right?
Still, the Giants have to take care of their own business in their quest for new head coach Joe Judge’s first win and the franchise’s 13th in the last 50 games.
Along with opening holes for Barkley, the O-line needs to give Daniel Jones more time. Jones was harassed all night last Monday against Pittsburgh, but he did manage to unload a textbook, downfield scoring strike to rising star Darius Slayton.
In his rookie year, Barkley amassed 215 yards on 24 carries against the Bears, while he managed just 59 yards on 17 carries versus Chicago.
He will need an effort like the former in Chicago not only to justify his talents, but also those of his line.
Barkley just needs a human window, not a parking space to remind us of how in his rookie season he took the first steps to become the franchise all-time back with his 2,000-plus all-purpose yards.
His pass blocking woes likely will linger. But when the line gives him some space, Barkley won’t be in the backfield for long.