Mike Francesa: Saquon Barkley Has Regressed


In a lost season for the Jets and Giants, Mike Francesa says the best football player in New York has regressed.

After a stellar rookie campaign, Giants' fans expected Saquon Barkley to be a constant even through a bad season, but his play hasn't been as impactful as last year. 

“He’s not doing things as well and as crisply as he did when he first got here,” Francesa said during his Friday show on WFAN.

This season, Saquon averaged 10.9 yards per carry in Week 1 and 5.9 yards in Week 2, but the running back hasn't generated more than 4 yards per attempt in any game since.

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Playing with Eli Manning under center, Saquon ran for over 100 yards during each of his first two games this season. Barkley injured his ankle during Week 3 which also happened to be the first start for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants star running back has played three full games since returning from the injury in Week 9, so Francesa says don't make excuses for him.

“I'm going on the premise that he's healthy, if he's not healthy, don't play," Mike said. "The Giants wouldn't put him out there hurt, if they put him out there hurt, they’re stupid.”

This isn’t the same running back we watched last season according to Francesa. During his rookie season, Saquon looked like an unstoppable force at times, rushing for more than 1300 yards, scoring 15 touchdowns and recording 91 receptions.

"He says he’s not hurt and then he goes 65 yards on a pass play which looks like hes fine, so you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say he’s hurt, that’s why he’s only gaining two yards a carry from scrimmage, but then he gets the ball in the flat and goes 65 yards on a pass play. He went 65 yards on the pass play just fine, looked great doing it. You Can’t have it both ways."

It’s not only carrying the football where Saquon has regressed, Francesa notes the running back has done a bad job of protecting the quarterback. .

“He has gotten into such bad habits on blitz pickup, that is a big problem. They don’t even want him in there all the time anymore on blitz pickup, they’re not even using him all the time on passing downs because of that!”

“He did a better job as a rookie on blitz pickup then he does now. His blitz pickup has not been good.”

As bad as the Giants have been, watching Barkley regress after the running back displayed superstar talent during his rookie season is something Francesa didn’t think was possible.