Saquon Barkley wants to get back to being SAQUON BARKLEY.
Barkley said he “worked on myself” during the bye week. He sounded like he meant more than just continuing to rehab from the high ankle sprain that cost him 31/2 games this season and has seemed to limit his effectiveness since he returned.
“I allowed, I don’t know what it was, for me not to be me. I don’t care, that’s who I am and that’s what I’m getting back to these last six weeks. I’m going to go out there and ball and have fun. Whatever happens happens,” he said on Thursday.
“I’m not going to be worried about if he’s hitting it too much or if he’s not, he’s not doing this or doing that. There’s a reason why I got drafted here, there’s a reason why I’m one of the best running backs in the league and I’m just going to go out there and play and do what I do.”
Barkley is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 57.4 yards rushing per game this season averaging averaging 5.0 and 81.7 while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2018.
Barkley is coming off a 13-carry, 1 yard game. He pointed out that Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders once had a 13-carry, -1 yard game in the playoffs (1994 vs. the Green Bay Packers).
“I don’t think that stopped him from having a great career,” Barkley said.
“There’s going to be times where you’re in a funk, there’s going to be times where things aren’t going your way. Obviously I would love to make it go my way. I would love to have 13 carries for 300 yards. I’m not going to get down on myself.”
Barkley watched film of himself during the bye week.
“You see a lot. You see where I can do better at, and I guess it’s a cliché answer, but it’s how I truly feel, no matter if my numbers were higher than last year or higher than they are now, I can improve on every single thing. I want to be a better pass blocker, I want to be better at catching the ball out of the backfield, in-between, outside the tackles, literally all in all,” he said. “I want to be one of the best players in the league one day, if not the best player in the league one day, I want to have that status, and I know that comes with the mindset of getting better every single day and putting your team first. So, I know I have to work on my little things for that to happen.”
There have been times when it has looked like he is trying to do too much, turning plays that could have been short gains into losses. On Thursday, though, Barkley said he felt there were times when he has done too little, accepting a short run when he might have been able to make it into more.
“There’s times where I can make that person miss and do what I do best,” Barkley said. “I’m not worried about pressing, I’m not worried about doing too much or doing too little. I’m worried about going back and playing how I know how to play, how I’ve been playing my whole life since I was a little kid.
“That’s a message my dad told me since I was a little kid when people tried to change my running style. I’m just going to go out there and have fun. That’s the biggest thing, have fun, be a little kid and just try to ball out with my brothers.”
Pressed on who might have been trying to change his running style, Barkley wanted no part of getting into that. He also did not want to get into a debate about how the Giants have used him in the passing game.
His receptions per game (5.7-4.7), yards per game (45.1-36.9) and yards per target (6.0-5.6) are all down from a year ago. He’s gone from hearing that Eli Manning is throwing him the ball too often on check downs to hearing some say that Daniel Jones isn’t getting him the ball often enough.
“Where do you win in that situation? When Eli (Manning) was our quarterback, I was getting the ball ‘too much,’ but everybody was saying ‘Oh, he throws check downs too much,’ so now that we’re not throwing enough check downs, ‘Oh, he’s looking down the field too much?’ Me, personally, I don’t ever want to get in his way. Daniel Jones is a great player, a great quarterback, and is going to be a better player as time continues to go on, and he’ll be one of the best in the league, I believe,” Barkley said. “But that’s more coaching. Check downs, as always, are a safety valve for a quarterback, but be you.
“If you, in college we’d just say they dig it, the deep ball, they dig the deep ball, be you. Go out and play the game, however you’ve been doing it, you’ve been awesome so far, and hey, I’m going to be there for you when you need me to be there. But play your game and let’s go out here and win some games.”
On Thursday it sounded like Barkley was determined to get back to doing that his way.