NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: Giant Hopes Rest On The Back Of Saquon Barkley

Neil Miller/NYSD

After beating Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Giants have won two in a row, for the first time in two years.

Maybe, Odell Beckham’s prediction is coming true and they will run the table all the way to the playoffs.

And why not, the Giants are in a division where both the Cowboys and Eagles can’t get out of their own way and Washington just lost Alex Smith for the season, leaving their hopes in the hands of Colt McCoy.

So why not?

But for this to happen the Giants will need to ride the back of Saquon Barkley. The rookie running back is looking like a young Barry Sanders out there with 142 yards against the Bucs and three touchdowns.

He needs to have games like this for the rest of the season for the Giants to have this unbelievable chance.

And Barkley has made adjustments, such as speeding up as he hits the line of scrimmage, making the 2-yard runs into three or four-yard gains.

“What I meant by pace – talking about kind of like your pace through the mesh,” Barkley said. “Through the mesh is the hand off between you and the quarterback. Where you lineup in home position in the gun, how fast you go through the mesh with your pace, slowing up your pace or fast pace. Like for example, Le’Veon (Bell), everybody knows his style – he has more of a patient type of pace going through the mesh. Other backs are faster.

“This week, coach challenged me to get more dirtier in the runs and get those three to four-yard runs. If I quickened up my pace through the mesh, getting to the line of scrimmage faster than what I’ve normally been doing, it will help things develop a lot quicker.”

Look Eli Manning isn’t finished as a quarterback, he just can’t do it himself. He can’t be the first option anymore. Barkley needs to be the man when it comes to the Giants offense. If he can average three to four years a carry and break and occasional big gainer, it will force defenses to look for the run and ease the pass rush, which will give Manning time in the pocket.

That’s the way it worked on Sunday, with Manning going 17 of 18 passing.

Now again Tampa Bay isn’t a dominating team and the defense needs to be tighter, as they let the Bucs get back into the game, which should have been a blowout.

And it shouldn’t be any easier this week in Philly, even with the Super Bowl hangover the Eagles are suffering from.

But things are different now than a month ago, when the Giants were blown out by the Eagles at MetLife.

“Obviously the biggest difference from our team last time we played Philly is that we’ve been finding ways to finish out games and execute when needed,” Barkley said. “And that’s what we’ve got to continue to improve on and continue to do for the rest of the year.”

Coach Pat Shurmur knows that this will be a different game as well.

“It’s going to be a competitive game, as we all know,” he said. “They took it to us the first game, we did some things in that game that you can’t do if you want to win against any type of team, and they’re a good team. They certainly have had their struggles of late, they’ve got injuries like we all have to some degree, but I’m looking forward to playing them.”

Especially with Barkley on top of his game.    

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