Giants' Saquon Barkley changing offseason approach, wants to 'work smart'

Kellerman likes the idea of Garrett as Giants OC (0:40)

Stephen A. isn't sold on the idea of Jason Garrett being the Giants' offensive coordinator under Joe Judge, but Max Kellerman explains why he's on board with it. (0:40)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was the day after the New York Giants had completed a 4-12 season. Minutes after coach Pat Shurmur had addressed the team after being fired. The grind had already begun. Already Saquon Barkley had started working toward next season after a year in which he admittedly didn't meet his own expectations.

"Lifting already," Barkley said on the Monday after the regular-season finale.

Barkley finished with 1,003 yards rushing and six touchdowns in 13 games during a season that was disrupted by a nasty high ankle sprain. It was hardly enough to keep him content.

So he's altering his offseason approach.

The plan this offseason is for Barkley to start slowly at the beginning of the year before ramping it up before the start of the offseason workout program in early April.

"Try something new. What I did last year, I felt it worked," Barkley told ESPN. "But I didn't have the year I wanted to have -- injuries had something to do with that -- but I'm going to try to take it to another level. Going to be tough; turn this thing around."

It's not a complete overhaul of what has worked so far for Barkley. Just some tweaks.

"Work. Work Smart," Barkley said of his new approach. "Start early. I took off last year. I'm not taking off this year."

Barkley spent a good chunk of his offseason last year in Los Angeles. He took some time off after the season. It was necessary because the previous 12 months had been hectic. He had gone from playing at Penn State to training for the combine to joining the Giants to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. There was little to no rest.

It was a crazy ride that eventually took its toll. Barkley needed to shut it down at the start of last offseason in order to regroup a bit.

This time it's different. He felt better the final few weeks of the season than he did most of the season. Now he's ready to go from the jump.

"Work. Even if you go take a trip, work. Not just relax," Barkley said of his plans for the rest of the winter. "Sometimes it's good to relax your mind, but no, it's not an all-or-nothing approach. ... I'm not going to be squatting 700 pounds. Or running 40s out there. But be smart with your training. Just get to it a lot earlier than what I did last year."

This is the benefit of being a veteran. Barkley will be now that he is entering his third year as a professional. He now knows what works for him and his body. He understands what is best for him and his family.

Barkley will be spending much of this offseason in New Jersey after buying a house last year. This is now his full-time home.

That will allow him to be close to the team facility and his quarterback. Daniel Jones has also said he plans to spend much of his offseason in New Jersey. This will allow the Giants' two most important offensive players time to work together, this winter and spring.

The commitment to Barkley will still be there, even with a new coach. Joe Judge was hired this week after eight years in New England, mostly as their special teams coach. Still, the man that selected Barkley with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL draft, general manager Dave Gettleman, is still in the building. Gettleman is still building the team around his star running back.

"Saquon's special, he's an outlier," Gettleman reiterated last week.

Barkley's first two seasons have been tough because the Giants have experienced little success, winning just nine games.

Barkley even experienced a coach being fired this month for the first time. This was just his latest taste of the business of football. Last offseason it was one of his closest friends, Odell Beckham Jr., getting traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Barkley made it clear the losing is taking a toll on him. That is why he's getting right back at it this offseason.

"I really want to win now. That is the mindset," he said. "You don't train your ass off to go 5-11 or 4-12. You train your ass off to go win a championship, to compete for a championship."