Saquon Barkley in Philly Should Put NFL on Notice - NittanyCentral

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Saquon Barkley in Philly Should Put NFL on Notice

The Philadelphia Eagles’ newly acquired running back, Saquon Barkley, was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and when he takes the field for the Birds next September he will be one of only four Eagles to play for the team who were drafted that high or higher in the last 50 years.

Two of the others helped lead Philadelphia to two of their last three Super Bowls in Donovan McNabb (No. 2, 1999) and Carson Wentz (No. 2, 2016).  The other was wide receiver Irving Fryar (No. 1, 1984).  With a price tag of about $15.83 million per year over the next three years, Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is counting on the 27 year old to far exceed the hype that surrounds him.

“Saquon’s your prototypical run-catch combo back,” an AFC Personnel Executive told NFL Insider Matt Lombardo. “He should pair up well with Hurts.”

In New York, Barkley was a big fish in a small pond of talent on a team that was 30 games under .500 since his rookie season.

Despite the losing culture and losing record,  the former Penn State star still managed to rush for over 1,300 yards, 10 touchdowns and 50 receptions twice during his six year tenure with the G-men.

The only other backs in the last 20 years to do that are LaDainian Tomlinson and Christian McCaffrey and the latter is the only other running back in the league right now getting paid more money than Barkley.

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Saquon Barkley
New Philadelphia Eagles running back Saquon Barkley (Image via Getty)

How Saquon Barkley Fits Eagles’ Offense

The thought of such a dynamically talented back playing in an already combustible offense with Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, behind a pretty good offensive line, even without future Hall of Famer, Jason Kelce, should make Birds’ new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore salivate at the possibilities.

Last season, on a team that used a three-quarterback “system”, Barkley was still able to rattle off 26 explosive plays in just 14 games.

“Here’s the thing,” an AFC Offensive Coach told Lombardo. “The Eagles’ offense will be similar — but more wide open — to what he played in during the 2020 and 2021 seasons with Jason Garrett calling the plays (in New York).  Kellen Moore’s scheme is very similar.

“The Zone run game will be good for Saquon. He had it the last couple of years with the Giants, but he’s going to be a way, way bigger factor in the passing game. I’d expect him to be very productive.”

That he should.

Barkley set a rookie record with 91 receptions back in 2018 and can certainly pick up the blitz as well.  If utilized properly Barkley could be the key ingredient to re-energizing an Eagles offense that was one of the most dangerous in the league two seasons ago.

“I thought they overpaid,” a long-time NFC North evaluator opined. “But, as far as the fit goes, he’s an explosive do-it-all running back who finally gets to play behind an elite offensive line.”

That sounds very similar to what the San Francisco 49ers did after they acquired running back Christian McCaffrey in a trade from Carolina last year.  The 49ers’ immediate return on their investment yielded 31 total touchdowns in 27 games, two trips to the NFC Title game and a Super Bowl appearance.  I’m sure those dividends were not lost on Roseman.

The Birds G.M. ‘s effort to restock the shelves with a bevy of talented big names in order to orchestrate a continuum of winning chemistry and culture in Philadelphia every off-season is now the norm and not the exception.

Just the change of environment alone could be a game-changer for a guy like Barkley.

The Giants were 34-64-1 with one playoff appearance in Saquon’s six years there. The Eagles were 56-42 over the same six years with five playoff appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl.

Barkley is now coming to a place where the expectation of winning is so high it makes some players uncomfortable.  I have a feeling he’ll be just fine.

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Joe Staszak
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