Saquon Barkley is done with the whole “Barkley dances too much” or “Barkley needs to get north and south faster” commentary.
New York Giants coach Brian Daboll was complimentary of Barkley after last week’s preseason game, saying “he hit the ball downhill, didn’t dance” when he carried the ball.
Asked by yours truly about that on Thursday, Barkley gave a long, passionate answer.
“No, to be honest, that’s just part of my game as a running back ... understanding what I gotta do,” Barkley said. “It’s probably the last I’m gonna speak on this. I know people will say dancing and this and that, you don’t get north and south, but I’m not gonna just run into the middle of my lineman’s back. That’s not how I play the game.
“I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old. By no means am I the perfect running back. I still got so much work to do. But I know that’s been a conversation or the thought or been a thing out there that’s said about me — he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s just dancing back there. I’m really kind of fed up with people who never played the position and try to speak on how to run the football.”
In an ESPN article last month, an NFL offensive coach was critical of Barkley.
”I’m down on him — he still doesn’t know how to play running back enough ... He’s a bouncer. He wants every run to be a home run. He’s going to have to learn that 4-yard runs in this league are good, instead of stopping, cutting it back and losing 2. And he gets his ass kicked in protection.”
It seemed clear that Barkley was aware of the ESPN article, or at least the perception of his running style.
“We call ‘em All-Pros with clickers in their hand,” Barkley said. “Running back is a tough position, but it’s easy to be there and watch football and watch on TV or even watch film and stop the clip and say he should have made that cut.”
Barkley did acknowledge that Daboll and his staff want a physical running style.
“The coaches have been making a point of emphasis of, a running style that we have as a team and the mentality that we have as a team and like I said, I want to do whatever coach wants me to do and that’s been my focus which — trying to be the best running back I can be for the team.
“Coach has kind of an emphasis, meaning we want to get more physical, we want to get more downhill.”
What does Daboll mean by Barkley getting north and south?
“He’s talking about the physicality of me trusting myself and me getting downhill,” Barkley said. “Dancing is like stuff that you do in high school football, Little League football where you run this way, you run that way. That’s not my thought process.
“If I’m making a run and someone breaks free right in my face I’m not going to just run right at him, I’m going to try to get back to the line of scrimmage. That’s part of my craft, part of my game.”