HomeSportsSaquon Barkley has something he's never had before and he loves it

Saquon Barkley has something he’s never had before and he loves it

Saquon Barkley has something he’s never had before and he loves it Originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

To fully understand why Saquon Barkley is so happy to be an Eagle, you have to understand what it was like to be a Giant.

He was there six years.

His teams once won more than six games and won one playoff game. He was never part of an offense ranked higher than 17th. His quarterback the past five years has been Daniel Jones.

He didn’t play next to a wide receiver who had 800 yards receiving after his rookie year. He has never played with a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, quarterback or wide receiver. Since entering the NFL in 2018, he has made more Pro Bowls than all of his offensive teammates combined.

No wonder he’s been smiling since he came here.

“The biggest thing that stood out to me is our first 7-on-7 conversation (in OTAs),” Barkley said. “You see AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Hurts. It’s not a bad group to be with. And that doesn’t even include the offensive linemen.”

By comparison, the Eagles have had just one losing season in the last six years, reached the playoffs five times, ranked 12th or higher in offense four times, have had nine offensive Pro Bowlers, including four offensive linemen, and have had three. guys with six 1,000-yard seasons.

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Brown and Smith have each topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. The Giants haven’t had a receiver with 800 yards since Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard in 2018.

And we could compare Jones and Hurts, but that’s really not necessary. Jones has won 22 of 59 starts. Hurts has won 34 of 51 starts.

“There’s a lot of talent out there,” Barkley said. “There was a lot of talent before I came here. I feel like I can only add something to that.

“But at the same time you can’t see too far. And that’s the beauty of it. That’s the great thing about coming every day, working together, encouraging each other. And that’s just going to make it easier when the regular season gets here and camp gets here.

Barkley had six years on and off in East Rutherford. His first two years he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and 80 yards per game. He has averaged 4.0 and 65 in the last four, while dealing with injuries and a lack of talent around him.

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How much can being part of a winning culture, surrounded by outstanding talent, help a running back? Just compare Miles Sanders’ numbers in 2022 with the Eagles and 2023 with the Panthers.

The Eagles are counting on Barkley to recapture his form from 2018 and 2022 in an offense that will be unlike anything he’s ever seen.

And it starts with the quarterback.

“It was great,” Barkley said of working with Hurts. “I’ve always admired his play from afar, not just Jalen, but a whole group of guys here. So it was fun to learn the system, get in the weight room with these guys, get on the field with these guys, especially Jalen, and continue to build something.

Aside from perhaps his rookie year at OBJ – when he led the NFL in scrimmage yards – Barkley has always been the guy opposing defenses have had to reckon with. The Giants had no other weapons.

If you’re a defensive coordinator watching film of the Giants, are you trying to think of ways to stop Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Shepard or Barkley?

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The focus of the offense will change week to week, but Barkley hasn’t had the luxury of playing next to one elite wide receiver over the past five years.

Now he has two.

“I’ve (always) admired them from a distance, but actually being here, being in the building with those guys and seeing how they work? You know, they’re just super talented on the field, but they match everything they do on the field with practice and in the weight room,” Barkley said of Smith and Brown.

“I’m excited to be here with them and excited to be here with this team. … I was in one place for six years and wore one sweater for six years. It was fun, but it feels like a new start. I feel like a rookie again. Getting to know everyone here, getting to know the culture, immersing yourself in the culture.

“I feel like it’s home here. I finally found a place and I just love it.”

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