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Giants’ Saquon Barkley smiling again, and that’s bad for opposing defenses

Barkley says he is trusting himself again

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Saquon Barkley
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is feeling, and playing, like SAQUON BARKLEY again.

After three games, Barkley leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 408, the only player in the league above the 400-yard mark. He is second in the league in rushing yards with 317. He is averaging a career-best 6.0 yards per carry, currently seventh in the NFL.

“I don’t look at my numbers,” Barkley said on Thursday. “I’m not naive, I’m not stupid. You scroll on Instagram and see the top-five rushers. I don’t go searching for my numbers. The way I go about it is like – I take care of the little things and the rest will take care of itself. I know the goals, and I know the things I want to accomplish. It’s not necessarily a certain number that – I just look at it as you continue to keep climbing up that mountain and the only way you can get to the top of that mountain is by taking it one step at a time.”

Barkley had a 68-yard run in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans, when he carried 18 times for 164 yards. The run that really convinced Barkley he was all the way back was the 36-yard touchdown run on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. NextGen Stats showed that the final 31 yards on that run were purely because of Barkley’s brilliance.

“When you see plays like when I went back, and you watch film on the touchdown run I had on Monday – making that jump cut inside a hole and making those two guys miss and find a way to score,” Barkley said. “Those are the plays where it’s like, kind of put a smile on your face and you’re like, ‘That’s the guy I know. That’s the guy who always was there.’

“He was there last year to be completely honest; I just had a hard time finding a way to bring him out. That’s coming with a mental disconnect, I lost confidence, and it’s human nature – that happens. You’re going to have your ups and downs in life, but you got to find a way not to waiver and continue to trust yourself, continue to trust the process, and just find belief in yourself again. I feel like I’m starting to do that also with the help of the coaches and my teammates.”

Barkley averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry in 2021. He said the physical ability was there, but in his first year back after major knee surgery the belief was not.

“I still was able to show glimpses of that, especially inside running – I just wasn’t breaking long runs. Now that I got my confidence back, all that stuff is starting to happen again,” Barkley said. “It’s different, think about anything you do – whether you’re playing football or any profession, any job you have is like; if you have confidence in yourself, when you’re back there. To be honest, before that play, DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) was like, I know I missed it before, and DJ was like, ‘Hit it’ and I hit it and we scored. It’s just little stuff like that is coming back, just the trust in it.”

With a wounded wide receiver group and a an offensive line struggling to protect quarterback Daniel Jones, the Giants need Barkley to be a difference-maker. Luckily for them, he feels — and looks — like that guy again.