At least the Giants have 'a beast' in Saquon Barkley

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Without Saquon Barkley, who knows how bad it might have been for the New York Giants on Thursday night.

The rookie running back was the singular ray of light emitting from the stinkfest that was their 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He also might be the lone positive to take from the early part of this season during which the Giants have dropped five of six games and own the worst record in the NFL.

But at least they have Barkley. That’s where they stand at this point after making him the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft and running it back with Eli Manning at quarterback. Manning is struggling and so are the Giants. They have perhaps a generational running back with barely a blemish on a bad team.

“How did I feel about my performance? Doesn’t matter to me,” Barkley said. “We didn’t get the win. To be completely honest, don’t care. As long as we get the win, I don’t care if I went for however many yards or even if I went for 30 yards, if we won, if we got the win, I would be satisfied, but at the end of the day we didn’t, so none of that matters."

Barkley may not celebrate it, but his game was a masterpiece. These were his accomplishments, per ESPN Stats & Information:

  • most scrimmage yards (229) by a rookie in a game in franchise history, per Elias

  • 100-plus scrimmage yards in 6 straight games, second-longest streak to begin career in NFL history (Kareem Hunt: 7 straight in 2017)

  • two runs of 40-plus yards; Giants had two from 2015-17

  • first Giants player with a 40-yard rush and 40-yard reception in the same game since Tiki Barber in Week 5 of the 2004 season

  • covered 90.9 yards on 55-yard reception; most distance covered by a RB on a reception this season

  • 149 yards of scrimmage in the first half, most by a running back in a half this season.

  • 123 yards after contact on his runs and receptions Thursday. That's the most by a player in a single game since Adrian Peterson in 2015.

  • One receiving yard shy of becoming first Giants player to gain 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game

There was one pass that Barkley caught where he proceeded to zigzag across the field, made a cut that defied logic and either ran through or broke six or seven tackles for a 55-yard gain. It was the kind of play that is semi-normal for him but makes your jaw drop nonetheless.

There was also the 50-yard touchdown run where he broke through the right side and nobody ever had a chance to catch him before reaching the end zone. Barkley is on pace for 2,162 yards from scrimmage. It would be second-most by rookie behind Eric Dickerson in 1983, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The Penn State product is putting on quite the show. At least it’s something for the Giants and their fans to watch in this seemingly lost season that still has 10 games remaining.

“Saquon is a beast. It’s hard not to say it. if I was saying anything otherwise, I’d be a hater,” Eagles running back Corey Clement said. “I definitely know playing against him in the Big Ten Championship – what type of character he is, what type of guy he is, downhill runner and versatile. My hat goes off to him. That guy is different. That’s my only word, he’s different. He is a beast, I’ll give it to him.”

He’s doing things that veteran left tackle Nate Solder has never seen. Solder spent the first seven years of his career with the New England Patriots before signing this offseason with the Giants.

“Anything unique? He’s amazing. He’s awesome,” Solder said. “He’s got the playmaking ability that on any given play that not only can he make a play, but a huge play and a touchdown on any play.”

Barkley has six touchdowns this season. The rest of the Giants roster has five. He leads all running backs in receptions (40) and receiving yards (373) entering the weekend. He’s second in the NFL in rushing (438) and averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

It's scary to believe but the Giants think it can get better. Veteran center John Greco thinks that if he and the rest of the offensive line hold up their end of the bargain, Barkley can average seven yards per carry this season, which no running back has done since the Colts’ Lenny Moore in 1961.

“Absolutely it’s possible,” Greco said. “He’s a damn good back.”

Incredible is how Greco described him.

At least Giants fans have that to watch the remaining 11 weeks of the season and beyond. Barkley is the real deal.