New York Giants fans have definitely a “love hat” relationship with former Giants running back Tiki Barber.
On the one hand, it’s easy to remember Barber as an all-time great giant and one of the best offensive players in the team’s history. But on the other hand, his willingness to make controversial statements – either right or wrong – angers fans.
Well, Tiki may just be at it again after saying that Saquon Barkley “may not be an all-down back” after the Giants’ 26 -16 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night football.
“He can not pass protect and it starts to get sharp, ”Barber said on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “That was probably the only question he got into the NFL because he wasn̵7;t asked to do it in Penn State. And now you see him dive to the ground and not stick his head into people’s chests. It becomes a responsibility because people do not see it, it is on tape and it comes out.
“If you see him for the last couple of years, he will not block. I learned this early in my career because I was a third down before I was a ‘star’ running back. If you can not block, you can not be on the court on the third down. You just can not, because you know it’s high flash and dog lows. You know someone is coming from safety [position], so you have to recognize what a defense is trying to do, how they will dogs or flash you. Recognition is one, and then two, you have to beat a guy! Saquon Barkley is a great man and he will not beat anyone. It’s frustrating to see he’s a big back, but he’s frustrating to see try to pass protect. ”
Tiki has a point here. There were a series of games Monday night when Barkley either could not recognize a flash or correctly face the Steelers’ flashes as he was in pass protection.
The most dazzling was the Mike Hilton sack at the start of the fourth quarter.
Barkley starts the game by moving to help Andrew Thomas block Bud Dupree, which would have been okay if the flash had not been on. However, you can see Hilton’s helmet turning into the backfield a few times before the snap of the ball, while the safety on that side of the court moves over the slot. It should at least be a hint that the Steelers are sending pressure – especially in the context of a game where they flashed very often (61 percent of drop-backs, per NextGenStats).
But Barkley does not recognize the flash until Hilton is through the left B-gap, and he simply can not get in time to do anything but dive on Hilton’s heels. This sack ended the Giants’ run and the resulting field position helped set up the touchdown, which put the Steelers up 16 with 5:28 left in the game.
And as Tiki says, this is not a new issue for Barkley. The most infamous game of his young career came in passing protection.
Barkley identified Adams as a blitzer, but he seemed to be trying to just catch him. Adams is a good player, but Barkley is bigger, stronger, more powerful and has more natural leverage. He should not have been overwhelmed like that.
While Barkley had a worst night running the ball, his fight in pass protection should probably be the biggest problem. That’s a problem Barkley needs to fix soon, otherwise he may not be a true three-down runner left.