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Saquon Barkley: “Offensive line is making me look better than I am”

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Barkley deflected praise his 170-yard day

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Giants scored 40 points on division rival Washington Redskins, The offensive production was powered by Saquon Barkley.

And after watching him back a 125-yard rushing performance against the Chicago Bears up with a 170-yard, one touchdown day against Washington, the talk is now that the Giants’ offense runs through Barkley.

Barkley himself, however, isn’t having any of that talk. Instead of accepting the praise, he did what a good running back does and deflected it onto his offensive line.

“The O-linemen dominating games,” Barkley said, “especially up front, on both sides of the ball, to be honest. We’ve been executing in all three phases of the game, and that’s what we weren’t able to do in the first half, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We weren’t executing.”

Barkley added that his improvement is really the offensive line making him look good, saying “I think the biggest thing would be the play by the offensive line, they’ve been tremendous giving Eli time and making me look way better than I actually am.”

On his speed in the open field

Barkley had the distinction of being the fastest player on an NFL field on Sunday, topping out at 21.91 miles per hour (per Next Gen Stats) on his 78-yard touchdown run. That’s fast, but he thinks he has more in him.

Barkley said, “Technically, that’s my fastest mile per hour this year, I think I’ve got faster than that in college before. I don’t know.”

He said it just feels different when he is able to really run at full speed in the open field, but of course he credited the opportunity to do so to his teammates.

“Yeah,” Barkley said, “you feel it in your body but you only get so many opportunities to do that. Those runs (don’t happen) very often in the NFL like (they do) in college, and when your (offensive line) blocks it up perfect like that and your tight ends do a great job on the outside and you get that one-on-one, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get to the end zone and in that case, it was trying to use your speed.”

Getting those blocks set up early and being able to make it through the line of scrimmage untouched is what gave him the opportunity to use his greatest asset, his incredible lower body power.

“I would say my acceleration,” Barkley said, when asked where he is the fastest, “so probably the first 10 or 15 (yards). I’m a football player, I’m not a track runner, I’m not built like a track runner at all, so I hit top speed a lot quicker but I’m not able to maintain my top speed for as long as a guy like Tyreek Hill. That guy can fly. I can get up to those speeds, but definitely something I will hope to get better at, too, that I can maintain that speed for a much longer period of time. But the good thing about football is it’s 100 yards, only 99 yards really, so I think I’m good on that.”

Going for the rushing title

So far Barkley has 1,124 yards on the ground this season, which ise the most for a Giants’ running back since Ahmad Bradshaw had 1,015 in 2012. But yet again, Barkley said that it was a team accomplishment.

“Yeah,” he said, “getting 1,000 yards in the NFL is an amazing accomplishment and being the first rookie ever for the Giants to do that is even a bigger one. It’s big because even though my name might go in the record book, it’s not just myself – it’s the offensive line play and the guys in the running back room, from active to practice squad to (injured reserve), all those guys have been a tremendous help for me throughout this year. We got that record as a whole.”

Right now Barkley is third in the NFL (and second in the NFL with 1,753 total yards from scrimmage).

Barkley said it was an honor just to be in the conversion with Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott.

“I see it on Twitter. What am I, fourth, third right now? To be up there with the names of those guys, the (Ezekiel Elliott’s), the (Todd Gurley’s) of the world, the Philip Lindsay’s of the world – his story is amazing, he’s been killing it this year too and I love watching him play. It’s an honor to be up there, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter. It only matters how many wins you get and we’ve got to figure out how to continue to get those wins.”

Barkley also has five touchdowns of 50 or more yards. The Giants as a whole had four in the previous decade. Barkley describes running as an instinctive process.

Barkley said, “Sometimes you don’t even look at the guy in front of you. The way my brain processes it, I’m doing anything it takes to get to the end zone. Obviously with the help of your wide receivers blocking down the field, I think not enough credit’s given to those guys when you have touchdown runs – not only from myself, but just in the league in general, but especially on this team when you see (Sterling Shepard) and Odell (Beckham) and all those guys downfield blocking. But my mindset, the way I process it is, make that guy miss and try to find a way, whatever it takes to get into the end zone.”

But even with as many explosive runs as he has had this year, he isn’t happy and believes he left points out on the field.

“I know I have five this year, but it just doesn’t sit well with me, there’s a couple that come to mind that I might’ve left on the field. Could’ve definitely did a better job of it, but I’ll get better.”

Finally, even if he doesn’t get the rushing title this year, he wants to promise fans that he will bring it to New York.

“Yeah, I want to be great,” Barkley said. “I want to go down as one of the best, and that’s not just going to happen in one day. You have to work for it, obviously with the help of your teammates, but if I don’t get it this year, I’m going to get it at some point. I promise you.”