EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The rookie-year version of New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has returned. He can see it by watching a movie of himself from the first three weeks of this season.
Barkley is second in the NFL with 317 rushing yards and two touchdowns at a healthy 6.0 yards per carry.
“Yeah, not to be arrogant, but if you see bits like I went back and watched a movie of Monday’s touchdown run, had that jump cut into a hole, missed these two guys and found a way, a These are games where just saying, ‘That’s the guy I know,’ it puts a smile on your face,” Barkley said Thursday of his 36-yard touchdown streak against the cowboys
Barkley was named Offensive Rookie of the Year after averaging over 2,000 yards in 2018. Since then, however, he has struggled to stay healthy. For the past three seasons he has been limited by ankle injuries and a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Even when Barkley played last year (13 games), he wasn’t himself. It’s something he’s openly and honestly said this year. He lacked confidence in himself and his body, especially his surgically repaired knee.
“That’s the guy that’s always been there,” Barkley said of his return to form this season. “He was there last year to be completely honest. I just had a hard time finding a way to get him out. That comes with a mental disconnect, a loss of trust and just human nature. It happens you have your ups and downs in life but you need to find a way not to waver and trust yourself. Keep trusting the process and finding trust in yourself again. I feel like starting with this.
According to NextGen Stats, Barkley had -44 yards ahead of expectations last season. That statistic held him to have a below-average back.
Not this year. Barkley leads all running backs through three games with 112 rushing yards above expectations.
The No. 2 overall in 2018 has his confidence back. It was evident Monday night against the Cowboys when the Giants called that run in the third quarter. It was a game they had played before, but Barkley wasn’t happy with the result of a 6-yard gain.
“I know I missed it before, and [quarterback Daniel Jones] was like, ‘Hit that motherf—uh,'” Barkley said. “We met him and we scored a goal. Only little things like that come back. Just trust in it.”
It will come into its own again on Sunday when the Giants (2-1) host the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. When those two teams met late last season, Barkley insists he got back on track.
He had 102 yards on 21 carries in last year’s 29-3 loss to the Bears in Week 17. It was Barkley’s biggest workload and his first 100-yard game since Week 16 of the 2019 season.
“Last year I really felt that hurdle that everyone wants to talk about. I felt like that was the hurdle for me last year,” Barkley said. “Obviously we didn’t finish the last game last year – we didn’t play well at all as a team. For this one, to go back to Chicago, the place I ripped my knee to have a 100-yard game, of course it’s all about the team, but if I look at it from my perspective, to that place to go where everything was in the past for me and I could go into the off-season healthy that, especially running. I just wasn’t breaking long runs and now that I have that confidence back all those things are starting to happen again.
Just like in 2018, Barkley now feels smarter and more experienced.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34691847/new-york-giants-rb-saquon-barkley-return-form-guy-know New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley on return to form