EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 14: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants carries the ball as Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers defends during the first half at MetLife Stadium on September 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

A legendary New York Giants running back had a bit to say about Big Blue’s current workhorse on his sports talk radio program.

The aspect that’s stood out about Saquon Barkley from the time the New York Giants drafted him in 2018 has been his sheer versatility. His strength, speed, pass-catching abilities, you name it. He’s always put it all on display, which has led him to become arguably the top running back in the league.

But after Monday night’s loss, his ability to pass-block and protect quarterback Daniel Jones is coming into question. Not only are fans speculating what he’s capable of doing in that area, but additionally a former Giants back and current TV and radio host.

“[Saquon] might not be an every-down back,” Tiki Barber said on the ‘Tiki and Tierney’ show, broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. “He cannot pass protect, and it is starting to become glaring. It was probably the only issue he had to deal with coming into the NFL. He wasn’t asked to do it at Penn State. And you see him diving on the ground, not sticking his head in people’s chests. It’s gonna be a liability, because people see it now, it’s on tape, and it’s gonna come out.”

That specific weakness of his doesn’t line up well with how much other offensive players have struggled in that area, including tight end Evan Engram as well as much of the offensive line. The general issues led to three sacks of Jones along with Steelers edge rusher Bud Dupree’s monster performance.

This may not be a new problem for Barkley though, at least according to Tiki.

“If you’ve watched him for the last couple of years, he doesn’t want to block,” Barber said. “I learned this early on in my career, because I was a third-down back before I was a star running back: if you can’t block, you can’t be on the field on third down. You just can’t, because you know those are high blitz and dog downs.”

The inability to truly protect Jones hindered the Giants’ offensive success on Monday night. They only put 16 points up on the board in comparison to the Steelers’ 26, with three of those points occurring on a Graham Gano field goal after Pittsburgh muffed a punt deep in its own territory.

Limited protection will lead to limited production on the offensive end of the field, and the blocking difficulties will definitely be a point of concern for New York ahead of its Week 2 matchup against the Bears.

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