On this Friday's Film Room session, OLS will investigate what is going on with Saquon Barkley. Barkley has flashed and had his moments, but he has not lived up to being the second overall pick of the draft. He is off to a poor start this season as he only had 26 rushing yards on 10 carries in week one and struggled again last night vs. Washington. The box score says he had 57 rushing yards on 13 carries. However, he also had a 41-yard run. That means he had 16 yards on 12 carries on all his other runs, a measly 1.3 YPC. Today's Film Room session will examine who is more responsible for the Giants' struggles on the ground, Barkley or the Giants offensive line?
The first play below shows Barkley's first carry of the night, and it is a positive play that results in a five-yard gain. This is a rare Giant's run where there is almost perfect blocking from all five guys across the Giants line. Everyone besides Solder at RT does a good job on this play, and Barkley blasted through the hole.
The next play is a two-yard loss, but it is not Barkley's fault. This play never has a chance because Billy Price, number 69, is so easily beaten that Tim Settle, number 97, is right in the hole and ready to meet Barkley along with an unblocked safety, Kamren Curl, which forces Barkley to bounce outside. Waiting for him outside was James Smith-Williams, number 96, who did a great job setting the edge. Though 96 was Solder's man to block, he did his job considering where the play was designed to go. However, once it bounced, he was at disadvantage, and the play ends up being a two-yard loss.
The third play highlights Barkley's 41-yard run, which was his best of the night and year so far. Interestingly, his best run by far all year comes on a draw play where the Giants O-line is mostly getting in the way more so than run-blocking. Though most of the Giants offensive line was pass blocking and allowing their defenders' momentum to do more of the work, Price and Solder were forced to make important blocks to help spring this run. Price does a great job of noticing Jon Bostic, number 53, is on timed A-gap blitz, and instead of getting into a pass block set, he immediately attempts to engage him and washes him down the line to create an opening for Barkley. Because of how good Chase Young is, Solder's efforts in this play are also important. Young was the first Washington D-lineman to notice it was a draw and reacts very quickly to start pursuit. However, Solder does a good job staying with him and does just enough to keep him off Barkley long enough for him to get going up the field and put Young in a chase position. The action is happening pretty fast so two freeze-frames are provided to highlight how important the blocks of Price and Solder are on this play.
The next play is a Barkley run for no gain, and again he is not at fault. The biggest disruptor on this play is Young destroying the TE. However, the offensive line deserves some blame too. Ben Predeson, number 68, is in the game at this point due to an earlier injury to Nick Gates, but a lot of mistakes are made by multiple players here, including Daniel Jones. Bobby McCain, number 20, moves down right before the snap from his normal safety depth to linebacker depth. Cole Holcomb, Number 55, will be left unblocked, so the Giants should have a 6-on-6 plan once McCain walks up. Given the amount of time on the play clock when the ball is snapped, Jones should have waited on the snap to give some sort of alert that a new player entered the box. Even if he does not, NFL offensive linemen as a group must be able to diagnose that and change the plan of action in the blink of an eye, It is a lot to ask, but this is professional football. Given the pre-snap alignment and where the ball was going, Predeson should have ended up blocking McCain. Poor TE blocking and bad awareness and blocking schemes are the culprits on this run for no gain.
Play five shows the incompetence of the Giants' play-calling. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett has been under fire since arriving in New York, and it is plays like this that justify the heat. There is so much wrong with this play before the ball is even snapped. At this point in the game, the Giants are down two starters, and Garrett thinks the best plan of attack is to go with a one receiver obvious run formation on 2nd and six and try to overpower a Washington team who is a lot more talented upfront than the Giants. On top of that, despite it being a one-receiver formation, they have Sterling Shepard out there as an H-back attempting to lead block. Things do not get any better once the ball is snapped, as LT Thomas, number 68, is easily beaten and gives up the TFLA. Even if Barkley could have bounced there was nowhere to go. The Giants TEs were unable to block the Washington DEs all game, and Montez Sweat had the edge set and was ready if anything went outside.
When any team is struggling to run the ball, the blame is usually not any one person or position group's fault. However, the film clearly shows the finger needs to be pointed at a lot of other people before Barkley. On numerous runs throughout this game, he was met at or behind the line of scrimmage by defenders and stopped before he could even get going. Barkley's prime years are being wasted by the Giants.