Saquon Barkley was supposed to have a better offensive line to run behind this season.
Instead, Barkley has missed three games this season with a high ankle injury and has been a shadow of himself, the explosive back who amassed more than 2,000 total yards this season.
He has had an extra week of rest from the Giants’ bye week and enters Chicago Sunday afternoon facing a desperate Bears’ squad with sack machine Khalil Mack (5.5 sacks this season) on the opposite line of scrimmage.
Beginning with the Bears in Chicago Sunday, the Giants apparently already have flipped the calendar ahead to 2020 to begin to evaluate positions, and they should have their sights fixture on an offensive lineman or edge pass rusher for the 2020 draft.
That can start with the offensive line and most of the entire defensive unit.
The 2-8 Giants, losers of six straight, likely will have tackle Nate Solder (concussion), center Jon Halapio (hamstring), and guard Mike Remmers (back) in the lineup as well as wide receiver Sterling Shepard back from his concussion protocol.
The question once again for Barkley is can he find enough acceleration in the backfield to escape through the same kind of holes he did last year?
With a line that has not materialized as expected and a fourth-ranked Bears’ defense that has allowed just over 17 points a game is the challenge.
But Barkley hasn’t lost his faith nor his focus.
Barkley understands his lack of production and wants to keep his team loose. He rushed for (-1) yards against the Jets two weeks ago and has 402 yards on 110 carries (4.0) in seven games this season.
He clearly is being hampered by the ankle injury of another one, as he isn’t the same runner that ran for nearly 1,400 yards in his rookie season last year.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not doing it enough, but [I’m] going back to having fun,” Barkley said. “Mostly what I want to do, when I say go back to being the guy that I am, that is who I am. Have fun when I score a touchdown. Run, have fun with my teammates. Be that guy on the sideline. Be vocal. That’s all it is. Go back and have fun. Spend the good times with my teammates.”
It sounded more like from a player who is on an 8-2 team instead of a 2-8 one.
Granted, he has had less or the same kind of support up front as he did last season. If Barkley has another stagnant effort against the Bears Sunday, it might be a good idea to shut him down the rest of the season.
If the Giants are to have a shot against the Bears, they need a productive day from Barkley.
Rookie teammate and quarterback Daniel Jones is likely to see multiple looks on defense with Mack finding numerous angles to launch his offensive.
Yet, this is a winnable game well within the Giants’ grasp against a reeling Bears’ team trying to find out whether they have a quarterback for the future.
The Giants do haven a running back and a quarterback for the future.