GIANTS REPORT

AKA THINKING OUTSIDE THE BIG BLUE BOX

Long-time readers of the GBN will know that GBN Editor and Publisher Grumpy Lindsay is a life-long fan of the New York Giants. In fact, the GBN was originally intended to be a Giants-oriented draft site, hence the Blue in Great Blue. However, while the site soon went league-wide Grumpy remains  a steadfast Giants’ supporter and has decided to resurrect the Giants Report to help long-suffering Giants’ fans get through the team’s current woes. Also note that the GR reports won’t always be posted on the GBN home page so please keep checking back here.

Will the real Saquon Barkley please stand up!!!

Its clearly still the off-season, or at least until Tuesday when veterans report to the opening of the Giants’ 2022 training camp. And we guess people just have too much time on their hands waiting for camp to get going because we keep getting queries asking how we feel about the Giants’ selection of RB Saquon Barkley with the 2nd overall pick back in 2018. Normally we’d let it go with a polite ‘Lord, that was 4 years ago, like can we just move on!’ However, there are some implications for the Giants’ current situation so we’ll give it a whirl.

Truth be told, we are kind of agnostic about the Saquon pick. Obviously, it hasn’t worked out the way the Giants had hoped. At the same time, though, it’s a little silly to call taking THE best prospect in any draft a ‘terrible’ pick. Fact is, though, that most of the evidence suggested that the Giants actually fully intended to take a QB with the 2nd pick that year, Certainly no team did more due diligence on the 2018 QB class including taking just about the whole front office out to the west coast to work out and meet with Josh Rosen of UCLA.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the draft. The whole league, including the Giants, soured on what was thought to be a very good QB class. The Giants, for example, had an unusual full front office meeting two weeks before the draft. Even co-owner Steve Tisch flew in from LA. And we have long suspected that at the meeting GM Dave Gettleman and his staff passed the word to ownership that they just didn’t feel any QB was really worth the 2nd pick.

And given that nobody else seemed inclined to give up much to move to that spit, it left the Giants with essentially three choices: take their top-rated QB anyway which in all likelihood would have been USC’s Sam Darnold who went one pick after the Giants to the Jets; take the best available player at an impact position which would have been DE Bradley Chubb, who went 5th to Denver; or take the best available player period even though they didn’t necessarily play a high-value draft position and that was Barkley.

Looking back, people have made the case for either QB Josh Allen or OG Quetin Nelson, but that’s just not the way the draft works. You have to make your picks that day and the simple fact is that nobody in the NFL was taking either with the 2nd pick overall.

And Barkley was worth every penny of the pick in his rookie. I am aware that some people have cherry-picked some stats from here or there – he averaged less than 4 yards per carry in the 3rd quarter of road games decided by less than a TD or some such – but the fact is he had a terrific rookie season. Let’s review. Barkley was 2nd in the NFL in rushing that year; he was 4th among all RBs in receiving yardage, indeed, his 91 catches is still the NFL record for rookie RBs; he led the league in yards from scrimmage and was just one of three rookies ever to have more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage; he was in the top ten in the league in both yards per carry and rushing TDs and his 5.0 YPC was the highest of any back in the league with more than 200 carries; he led the league in broken tackles, in fact, he had 50% more broken tackles than the second guy; and he also led the league in big-play rushes (of 20-yards or more) with 16 while no other RB had more than 11 and only 8 total had as many as half Barkley’s number.

And then he got hurt! It’s the NFL. Shit happens! Move on!

Which kind of brings us to today. We have made the argument in the past that the real value of Saquon Barkley was not that he was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball with the potential to rush for 1,500 yards and catch 90-100 passes for another 600-700 yards on the season, it’s that the threat that he could take it to the house every time he touched the ball and had the potential to rush for 1,500 yards and catch 90-100 passes for another 600-700 yards on the season was going to force other teams to bring extra people to the line of scrimmage in order to deal with that threat which was going to open up things for the passing game downfield. Then you ran Barkley when the other team dropped back into coverage. Indeed, I joked with a friend at the time that the Giants should have consisted of play action on first and second downs and then if you were still left with third-and-long then give it to Saquon.

Sadly, though, we had two successive coaching staffs that came in, saw they had a talent in Barkley, and said ‘let’s pound the rock’ and opted to run an offense that probably would been considered conservative in the 1980s.  So we ran on first down against 8-9 man fronts, then ran again on second on long against 8-9 man fronts. Then on third and long we asked our young QB to hang in the pocket and try and convert throwing the ball down the field, despite the fact that his OL wasn’t very good and his receivers were even worse.

However, every indication is that the Giants’ new offensive brain trust will be running a legit 21st century offense with guys lining up all over the place. If nothing else, that should finally play to Barkley’s strengths. And while it may be too late to get full value for the 2nd pick, it could be a lot of fun watching this fall.