Jordan Raanan, ESPN Staff Writer 30d

What now for the Giants after Saquon Barkley's injury?

Running back Saquon Barkley's season is over. The New York Giants' season seems all but over, too.

Any hope of the Giants (0-2) playing meaningful games after Thanksgiving appears unlikely without their undisputed top playmaker. It almost has the feel of Week 5 during the 2017 season when wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s leg shattered and several other top players were injured (including wideout Sterling Shepard) and with those setbacks went a once-promising Giants campaign.

The same could be felt when the anterior cruciate ligament in Barkley's leg ripped and he grabbed for that right leg on Sunday. And then Shepard left the game with a toe injury not long after.

So now what? Let's start with the Giants as a team in 2020.

"We go back to work. That's where we go," said coach Joe Judge, who saw his team show resiliency by battling back and giving itself a chance to win the game from the Chicago Bears' 10-yard line on the final play. "We go back to work on Wednesday. We start plugging ahead. We have a tough opponent [San Francisco 49ers] next week [1 p.m. ET, Fox]. They are going to be hanging on the East Coast waiting for us next Sunday. That is where we go.

"Our vision has to be forward. Whatever happened [Sunday] win or loss, it's over. [Sunday's] game is over. What is important is that our players learn from what happened. We clean up the mistakes and we push forward and go to work with the right mentality, which I know our guys will."

In other words, turn the page and keep on moving with whoever is left standing. The 2020 Giants will ultimately be judged by how they manage to make strides sans Barkley rather than by wins and losses.

The Giants will thrust running backs Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman into bigger roles.

The likelihood is that Gallman gets used similarly to how Judge's former team, the New England Patriots, uses Sony Michel. That means when Gallman is on the field, most of the time it will be to run the football.

Lewis will be the Giants' passing-down option. Lewis caught four passes on five targets for 34 yards in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Bears, and he has Judge's complete trust as a pass-blocker. The Giants might add a veteran such as Devonta Freeman to the mix, but Gallman and Lewis sharing the load is how it would shake out at the moment. Freeman would split time with Lewis if signed.

"It's going to take all of us," Lewis said after playing 54 of the 62 offensive snaps with Gallman inactive for the contest. "We got Wayne, myself, we all gotta step up. Obviously, you know, Saquon is one of the best running backs in this league, so nobody's going to be able to do what he does, what he's done. We gotta do what we can do, be ourselves and do whatever the coaches ask us to do and work hard every day."

It's still going to be a grind. Barkley was the offensive player who struck fear into opposing defenses. The Pittsburgh Steelers made it their top priority in Week 1 to limit his effectiveness. They threw eight players and sometimes nine into the box. The Bears were doing the same early, daring the Giants to throw the ball downfield and beat them.

But give Judge and the Giants credit for playing hard without Barkley. They faced a 17-0 halftime deficit and battled themselves into position to win. That is the kind of effort you can only hope to see the remainder of this season, even if it's in vain.

"We came out at halftime and said we're going to find out a lot out about the team we are," Judge said. "It's never about what happens to you. It's about how you respond to it. I liked the way our guys responded. We've got the right guys. We've got the right kind of guys."

They're confident Barkley fits into that mold, knee injury or not, and that Barkley's story is going to end well.

The tricky part is when that will be and how the Giants plan to handle him financially. This is Barkley's third season since being the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2018, and that makes him eligible for a lucrative long-term extension for the first time beginning next offseason.

Coming off a serious knee injury, it befits the Giants to wait and see if he is healthy and back to his previous form before guaranteeing a substantial sum. Even then, they might need contingencies.

But if you're Barkley, you want that payday sooner rather than later. There's a reason Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings) and Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints) were fighting for contracts this offseason. Running backs fall off the map quicker than you can say Todd Gurley II (Atlanta Falcons). Every season is a few hundred more hits and more opportunities to get injured.

It now seems unlikely the Giants would pay Barkley so quickly, even though they did pay Beckham fresh off that broken leg. But that was with Dave Gettleman as the general manager. Who is to say that Gettleman will still be in that role come next summer? Can he really survive the three- or four-win campaign that seems likely without Barkley?

Team co-owner John Mara said that when the Giants walk off the field after the last game of the season, ownership needs to feel as if the team is moving in the right direction. Meaningful December games would obviously be a sign of that.

But realistically, that's not happening. It would take a miracle for the team that Gettleman assembled -- without Barkley -- to sniff .500. It's the third straight season with him in charge that the Giants started 0-2. In the end, this injury might just prove to be the final straw for Gettleman in New York.

All consequences of one unfortunate step by Barkley in Chicago.

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