Pat Shurmur on Saquon Barkley: You don’t go in planning not to give him ball

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There were several points during the 2018 season when Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was asked after losses why the team didn’t get the ball to running back Saquon Barkley more often, so there was a familiarity to the way his media sessions went on Sunday and Monday.

Barkley ran 11 times and caught six passes over 66 offensive plays for the Giants in a 35-17 loss to the Cowboys. Those carries included a 59-yard jaunt on the second play from scrimmage and the overall work load produced 139 of the 306 yards that the Giants produced on Sunday afternoon.

Barkley got the ball seven times in the first half and Shurmur said that the way the Cowboys controlled the ball for much of the half left fewer chances for the back than he would have liked.

“It’s always good to keep him involved throughout, but the way the first half, and I know that was a question last night as well, the way the first half played out, it was only four possessions,” Shurmur said. “A couple reasons for it, they controlled the ball on us by making their third downs. We didn’t convert and again we had the one drive we got down there and got stopped and we have to do a better job of when we get down there, getting points and that changes things. You don’t go into it thinking he isn’t going to touch the ball, that’s just how that first half played out.”

Barkley got the ball a few more times on a field goal drive to open the third quarter, but the Giants opted to give the ball to Elijhaa Penny on a third-and-2 while down 28-10 on the next drive. Penny was stuffed and Eli Manning lost a fumble on the next play to all but close out the competitive portion of the proceedings.

Using Barkley there might not have changed the final outcome, but it will always be worth asking why the Giants don’t try to get more out of their top player.