Tiki Barber joined WFAN’s Moose and Maggie Show on Friday for the first of what will be weekly Football Friday hits on the program, and of course, there was nowhere else to start than with Tiki’s reaction to Saquon Barkley’s reaction to Tiki’s thoughts about Saquon being an every-down back.
Say that 10 times fast, but after hearing what Saquon had to say, Tiki noted that he wasn’t surprised the “beef” blew up – “Of course not, it’s New York! You know how Giants fans are when you speak the truth,” Barber noted – but did want to explain his thoughts a little more.
“Saquon can (pass block), he just needs to do it more consistently. He’s right, it wasn’t meant to be disrespectful – I respect him, and believe he’s going to be a great back in this league,” Barber said. “He’s still young, and we’ve seen what he can do as a runner and as a receiver. But, to be a complete every-down back, you have to learn how to pass protect. I know he can do it, it’s just a matter of technique and want-to.”
If anyone knows what it’s like to have a weakness constantly discussed in the media, though, it’s Barber who harkened back to an issue of his own as an allegory for what Barkley can do to become complete.
“It’s not dissimilar to what I learned with my fumbling issues,” Barber said. “That was pointed out to me by Thomas George, who was with the New York Times at the time; it was harsh, and it plagued me for two years after that, until Gerald Ingram came in with Tom Coughlin’s staff and fixed it for me. It took a lot of dedication, but ultimately, I became a much better player because of it.”
And Tiki and Saquon aren’t alone in either respect.
“It’s not just Saquon – every player in the NFL has issues they need to work on,” he said. “Sometimes it gets pointed out, especially when it’s glaring on Monday Night Football.”
So, then, if Tiki were coaching Saquon, what’s the methodology towards improvement?
“Here’s the thing: when you pass block, you can get it half-wrong and still be okay, as long as you’re disruptive enough to not let your quarterback get hit. You’d like it to be perfect, but it won’t always happen, because the other guys are good athletes, too,” Barber said. “For me, if I’m coaching Saquon, the first thing to work on is awareness – where are guys blitzing from, what are their tendencies, which gaps are they hitting? A couple of the busts were because (rookie left tackle) Andrew Thomas and Saquon were confused, and as a result, you had clean shots on your quarterback; you can’t let that happen, but awareness comes with experience.”
As for the second part, or “want to,” as Tiki put it?
“Can I put my helmet on this guy’s chest, and slow him down or stop him from getting to where he wants to get to? That’s what it is,” he said.
Part of that “want to” is technique, which Barber understands if Barkley is lacking.
“I met Saquon when he first came here, and we had a great conversation where one of the first things we talked about was pass protecting. I wasn’t coaching him, but he was inquiring, and that’s what I love about him: he doesn’t act like he knows it all, he wants to continually learn,” Barber said. “His rookie year, if there are mistakes, you let it go because he’s a rookie. Last year, we know he had an ankle injury, and when you’re compromised, it’s tough to work on technique because you don’t want to favor; you need to have leverage with the same foot and the same shoulder to hit someone, or else you’ll get turned around or run through.”
That said, now in Year 3, it’s up to Barkley to take a new opportunity and run with it, so to speak.
“Now, it’s a whole new process this year – it’s buying in to whatever methodology our running backs coach is teaching you, and then sticking to it and perfecting it."
You can listen to Barber’s entire segment on Saquon, the Giants, and more below, and as always, check out more on-demand audio from Moose & Maggie, or tune in every day to the WFAN.com or Twitch.TV/WFAN livestreams of the show!