EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is anything diverse about the Saquon Barkley that we are seeing this year. And it goes nicely beyond the New York Giants’ operating back becoming healthier and a lot more explosive on the field this summer time.
Barkley has an edge that was usually nonexistent for the 1st 4 years of his profession. There is a chip on his shoulder that appears to be the size of a Manhattan skyscraper. Instead of tiptoeing in front of the microphone, as he had seemingly completed previously to retain the finely-crafted image he preferred, Barkley is letting it all fly.
It started late final year in an interview with Kim Jones on WFAN in New York. It was there that Barkley 1st issued the warning to “stay on that side of the table when things flip around” just after pretty much 3 years of injuries. He has reiterated that message in different types publicly several occasions because then, and it culminated final month with possibly his most poignant admission however.
“People are trying to write me off. … You know what? F— everybody. I’m ready to go crazy. And I’m [going to] let the world feel me,” Barkley let fly on the 2ndWind Podcast hosted by two of his close good friends.
This would have been surprising had Barkley not mentioned the very same point at this point final year. But this was just an extension of a a lot more open version of the operating back that started to surface when items went off the rails final year.
Barkley, 25, didn’t have a wonderful season in 2021. He wasn’t completely wholesome, coming off a torn ACL the earlier year and then unluckily injuring his ankle in Week five when he stepped on the foot of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis. He also admittedly was not completely confident in himself and his physique.
It led to Barkley rushing for 593 yards on 162 carries (three.7 yards per rush) in 13 games. His rushing yards more than expectation per carry was minus-.28, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That basically says that when the ball was in his hands final season, Barkley was a under-typical operating back. Not precisely what you would count on from the second general choose and Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.
It spurred the doubters, and now we’re seeing a a lot more vocal version of Barkley.
“I mean, I really … wouldn’t say anything triggered it, but I guess I would say just probably being out a couple of games the last two years,” mentioned Barkley, who has missed at least 3 games in 3 of his 4 expert seasons. “Just probably being fed up, and not even with like the outside noise, but just even with having to sit out games and rehab and all that. All the bad stuff I guess you could say.
“I guess I’m kind of just fed up with that. So, that kind of just takes me to a place where right now I’m just happy, enjoying life, enjoying the game I love, and I just want to go out there and have fun.”
Moments just after Barkley uttered these words he went off on the “all pros with clickers” who have critiqued his operating style and thought of him a dancer. Clearly Barkley has noticed and heard the doubters, and he admitted as substantially to ESPN in an interview earlier this summer time. He talked about becoming active on social media and on his telephone, so it is not anything he can reasonably ignore.
“He’s a guy who is not going to forget stuff like that,” mentioned quarterback Daniel Jones, a single of his closest good friends on the group. “Whether that changes his work ethic or approach, I’m not sure it does. I think he has that naturally. He’s an extremely competitive guy.”
But the outdoors noise is also not eventually what drives Barkley for a bounce-back season in his contract year, even if he may well use it as motivation.
“It is not really something to prove [them wrong],” Barkley mentioned. “I talked about it with my friends. I have always been like this, even when I train. I always find things to motivate me. I will make stuff up, even before, when I didn’t have doubters. I would say to myself I had doubters.”
Barkley is not the 1st and will not be the final to do this. Former Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., now a cost-free agent, made use of to regularly refer to himself as somebody who was an underdog his entire life. Yet Beckham went to Isidore Newman, the very same prominent higher college in New Orleans exactly where Eli, Peyton and Cooper Manning have played, starred at LSU and was the 12th general choice in the 2014 NFL draft.
But the truth that we’re just beginning to hear about this side of Barkley 5 years into his profession is exciting.
“I feel like as we mature as men we understand you just have to speak your truth. Understanding that being humble is a cool thing but speaking your truth is a beautiful thing, and it takes balls to do it,” mentioned cornerback Darnay Holmes, who views Barkley as a buddy and mentor. “I feel like he’s grooming himself to be that. He’s a father. He understands that his kid’s looking up to him. So different ways he conducts himself. He knows that his young one is following suit.”
So this new public strategy has caught the consideration of quite substantially any one who is paying consideration. Teammates integrated. Not that there is something incorrect with it. Motivation comes in lots of diverse, shapes and sizes. It also at times adjustments on a year-to-year, week-by-week basis. Perceptive coaches take notice.
“I think you try to learn your players the best you can to motivate them,” 1st-year Giants coach Brian Daboll mentioned. “Sometimes players can motivate themselves in certain, different ways. I think that’s good. Each player is different. What motivates you might be different than what motivates me. So I kind of let those guys be them, and if something’s on their mind, and that’s motivating them — great.”
Whatever Barkley appears to be carrying out, it has worked up to this point. He has looked far better this summer time than at any other point because the start off of the 2019 season and is operating considerably a lot more confident than final season. He admitted not too long ago he’s “way, way ahead” of exactly where he was at this point final year when he was just cleared to completely return to practice.
It all lines up for a substantially far better 2022 season, as extended as he remains wholesome.
“He’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. He is playing as good as I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here,” mentioned wide receiver David Sills V, who trains with Barkley in the offseason. “He’s so confident right now. Not that he ever wasn’t, but his confidence is on another level. So we’re all behind him and excited to see what he does this year.”
It comes at just the correct time. Barkley is playing on the fifth-year solution in his rookie contract. He is set to grow to be a cost-free agent just after the season.
There will be lots of possibilities for him to impress. The Giants do not have a deep operating back space — Matt Breida, Antonio Williams and Gary Brightwell combined for 192 rushing yards final season — and each the group and Barkley are each equally motivated to enable him to shoulder a monster workload.
“Good. He’s looked really good since the spring,” common manager Joe Schoen mentioned. “He’s quick, he’s fast, good hands.”
Barkley seems equally content with how the summer has gone: without any hiccups. He was the only Giants playmaker available every day of practice and declared himself ready for the season before the final preseason game last weekend.
In Barkley’s mind, he’s back. And not in simply a physical manner.
“Just getting back to being myself, and when I say that, I am not even talking about hurdling, jumping, breaking long runs,” he mentioned. “Just smiling again and just enjoying it. Enjoy football. That is where I am at right now. I have been doing a lot of work not just on my body but on my mental. And I am at peace.”
And he’s not afraid to inform you about it.