Giants curtain call for Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones? Evaluating the previous top 10 picks under Brian Daboll

It may be a cliché to say that for many players NFL doesn’t mean National Football League, it means “Not for long,” but the New York Giants are living proof that the saying has merit. Let’s go back to his 2019 training camp: running back Saquon Barkley had just lived up to the hype of being selected second overall in the 2018 draft with a historic rookie season. Led the NFL with 2,028 scrimmage yards, third-most as a rookie in NFL history behind Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (2,212) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) on the way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. As a quarterback, the G-Men thought they had their young Eli Manning clone after selecting Duke’s Daniel Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Today, both Barkley and Jones are at a career crossroads, each looking ahead to the final year of rookie contracts in 2022 as they play for a new head coach in former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and the general manager at former Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Joe. Schoen, neither of whom have to employ their starting backfield beyond this season to keep their jobs as both were recruited by previous regimes.

The hope for both players is that this upcoming season just can’t be as ugly as 2021 was for the Giants across the board. Former head coach Joe Judge’s final season in charge was marred by injuries, including Jones (missed six games due to neck injury), Barkley (three games, ankle injury/COVID protocol), Kenny, 2021 offseason highest-paid free agent wide receiver Golladay (three games, knee injury), center Nick Gates (15 games, broken leg), point guard Shane Lemieux (16 games, knee injury) and tackle Andrew Thomas (four games, ankle/foot).

Production naturally suffered down the stretch as the offense collapsed and the Giants couldn’t get a win in their last six games without Jones. They finished as one of the two worst scoring units in the league, with the exclamation point of the season in their final home game against Washington, executing a sneaky quarterback on third-and-9 inside their own 5-yard line.

Giants 2021 season: winter woes

WL

4-7

0-6*

PPG

18.4

9.3

gifts

14

sixteen

takeaway

19

3

* Daniel Jones missed all six games (neck injury)

Giants offense 2021: bottom of the barrel

PPG

15.2

31

Total yards/game

287.3

31

lost the ball

30

Latest

Yards/Game

4.7

31

Yards/Pass

5.8

Latest

Enter Daboll, the architect of the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL (29.8 PPG) over the past two seasons, who helped lead the Bills to playoff wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since his four-game appearance streak. consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s. The key to Buffalo’s resurgence was Daboll figuring out how to make the most of the Bills’ 6-foot-5, 237-pound quarterback Josh Allen, whom the team drafted seventh overall in 2018.

The use of more empty formations (five receivers, only the quarterback in the backfield), pre-snap movement, play action, and mesh/route crossing concepts allowed Daboll to simplify the game for Allen, helping him to make faster decisions as a runner and as a runner. quarterback Under Daboll’s tutelage, Allen became the only player in NFL history in his first four seasons with more than 100 passing touchdowns (103) and 30 rushing touchdowns (31).

The Rise of Josh Allen’s Career

WL

15-12

24-9*

Passing Yards/Game

184.4

271.2*

TD-INT

30-21

73-25*

passer rating

78.2

99.2*

* Top 10 in the NFL

Between Daboll and new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who was Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach from 2018-21, Jones is relishing his chance to work with the Giants’ new offensive mastermind going forward.

“They both bring a lot of ideas, new ideas from different systems, systems that have been very successful, had very successful quarterbacks,” Jones said in May. “I think all those ideas here, new thoughts here, new concepts, new plays, I think all those things (will help him get better). I just try to pick up those little things here and there and hear some of his philosophy on playing the game. position, playing attack, looking for opportunities to make plays when they are not there and to protect the ball.

“I think all those conversations, just learning from their experience and what they’ve been doing, how successful they’ve been.”

Jones has a similar physical makeup (6-5, 230 pounds) to Allen, and some slightly better efficiency numbers (completion percentage and passing yards per game) than Allen had in his first three seasons.

Comparing the first three seasons of Daniel Jones and Josh Allen

% comp.

62.8%

61.8%

Passing Yards/Game

221.0

220.6

TD-INT

45-29

67-31

passer rating

84.3

90.4

However, Daboll made it abundantly clear a day after he was officially hired as Jones’ head coach in January that he will not compare his new quarterback to his former quarterback.

“We’re going to take it day by day,” Daboll said on Jan. 31. “Look, we’re not going to make any predictions and I wouldn’t do that to Daniel or any player. I think it’s fair to compare him to another guy I was working with. He’s himself. We’re going to find out what he does well. We’re going to try to put in a system that fits him and then it’s our job to bring pieces that help him be the best version of himself and the best quarterback for us.”

For Jones to be the best version of himself, the Giants need Barkley to come close to the high bar he set in his first two seasons in terms of production and health. He is the only player in team history with 1,000+ rushing yards in each of his first two seasons (2018-2019), but a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season caused Barkley to miss the last 14 games. Still reeling from the effects of that injury last season, he has averaged 3.46 rushing yards per carry over the past two years, the fewest in the NFL among players with 150-plus carries. Despite his struggles the past two seasons, Barkley’s 14 rushing plays of 50 or more yards are the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018, three more than the Tennessee Titans running back’s 11 , Derrick Henry, in that span.

Saquon Barkley Career Stats: Running Downhill

games played

29

fifteen

Scrimmage Yards/Game

119.6

63.3

Scrimmage Yards/Touch

5.6

4.2

Skirmish TD

23

4

Daniel Jones with and without Saquon Barkley*

games played

twenty

18

Passing Yards/Game

243.6

195.9

TD-INT

29-15

16-14

passer rating

87.3

80.3

*Since Jones’ 2019 rookie season

“The last two years didn’t go the way I wanted, I’ve kind of been reflecting on that,” Barkley said at Giants training camp on July 29. “Everything happens for a reason. So adversity, injuries that have come my way these last two years, God has a bigger plan and it’s all going to work out. So in this year, year five, for me I just want to, like I said in my first interview when I talked to you guys this year, I just want to show the Giants that the guy that they drafted is still here. I can still go out there and make the plays and help my team succeed. That It’s the only thing I’m focused on. myself, taking care of my body, taking care of my mind and trying to be the best teammate I can be.”

Getting Barkley back on track is one of Daboll’s top priorities as he integrates the Giants into his offensive system.

“You see it [Saquon Barkley] running around here; he’s a pretty skilled player,” Daboll said at training camp on July 29. “Our job is to find ways to use him, whether he did it last year or the year before, two years, in college. [at Penn State]. When you’re developing on a system, you find out what these guys do best and you challenge them to do more. And if it doesn’t look too good, then you’ll see if you want to keep chasing it. And if you want to keep chasing him then you have to upgrade them. And if not, you just throw it away and do something else.”

One thing Jones has worked to shed is his high turnover numbers since he has the third-most in the NFL along with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (49) since he entered the league in 2019, Trailing only Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (52). ) and recently acquired Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (51). To cut down on time, he began trying shorter, faster pitches, and as a result, Jones was sacked at the slowest pace of his career last season.

Daniel Jones career statistics

Passing Yards/Attempt

8.0

7.6

7.3

INT percentage

2.6%

2.2%

1.9%

percentage of bags

7.6%

9.1%

5.7%

In order to raise the ceilings on Jones and Barkley in 2022, Schoen and Daboll acquired three new starters to connect on the offensive line alongside Thomas at left tackle and Lemieux at left guard: projected right tackle Evan Neal (selected seventh overall in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Alabama), center Jon Feliciano (started with the Bills the last three seasons) and point guard Mark Glowinski (started with the Colts the last four seasons).

“He’s [Jones] he’s got the right mindset,” Daboll said of his new quarterback. “He’s got good size. There are many things that I like about Daniel and we will take it one day at a time. We will work with him. We will help you improve. We will help you be a better leader. We will help you to be everything. That is our job as a coaching staff and as an organization. Everyone is needed. It’s not just me. He is the rest of the trainers on our staff. They are the explorers. It’s the support staff. It is the owner group. It takes a lot to raise a quarterback, so to speak, and he’s been around the corner here these past three years with a few different pieces. We’re going to try to give him some stability and start from there.”

Stability would be welcome for everyone involved with the Giants, who now have their fifth head coach in six seasons and are stuck in a five-year playoff drought with a 22-59 record since 2017, tied for worst. place in the NFL with the New York Jets. Getting to the playoffs will likely be a tall order given that the Giants would need to get past two playoff teams from a season ago in their own division, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. However, finding out whether or not Barkley and Jones can be his long-term future along with Daboll will help the team take its next big step forward in rebuilding a once-proud franchise.

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