It was the day after the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular season finale to finish 4-12. Pat Shurmur had just finished addressing the team after he was fired for going 9-23 in his (and Barkley’s) two seasons.
For the man known as SaQuads, it’s all about preparation for the 2020 campaign.
“Lifting already,” Barkley said.
Barkley’s 2019 was admittedly below the standard he set for himself. He rushed for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns on 217 carries. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Barkley was limited to 13 games with a high ankle sprain.
This offseason, Barkley wants to alter his offseason training regimen. He is going to start slowly and ramp it up the closer he gets to the Giants voluntary offseason workout program that begins in April.
“Try something new. What I did last year, I felt it worked,” Barkley said in an interview with ESPN. “But I didn’t have the year I wanted to have—injuries have something to do with that—but I’m going to try to take it to another level. Going to be tough; turn this thing around.”
Barkley spent a great deal of last offseason in Los Angeles. He also took time off after the season because he simply needed a break. In the span of 12 months, he went from suiting up for the Penn State Nittany Lions, getting ready for the NFL Combine, being selected second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Barkley is entering his third NFL season. He’s gained wisdom on how to prepare his body for the rigors it will face.
“Work. Work Smart,” Barkley said. “Start early. I took off last year. I’m not taking off this year.”
Barkley said he felt better in the final weeks of the season than he had previously. His workout prowess was legendary, even before he entered his first NFL training camp. He’s not going to overhaul what got him to the NFL but recognizes his approach needs to be tightened up.
“Work. Even if you take a trip, work. Not just relax,” Barkley said. “Sometimes it’s good to relax your mind, but, no, it’s not an all-or-nothing approach…I’m not going to be squatting 700 pounds or running 40s out there. But be smart with your training. Just get to it a lot earlier than what I did last year.”
Barkley bought a home in New Jersey which will allow him to remain close to the Giants’ training facility. Quarterback Daniel Jones also plans to remain in New Jersey for much of the offseason. This will allow the Giants’ two most important offensive players to work out together, something that has been missing in recent years.
Barkley has also gotten an education on the business of professional football.
He watched as Odell Beckham Jr., one of his best friends on the team, was dealt to the Cleveland Browns nearly a year ago. The Giants brought in former New England Patriots special teams coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Judge to succeed Shurmur. The man who drafted Barkley, general manager Dave Gettleman, is still in the Giants’ front office.
Gettleman reiterated the team is dedicated to building around Barkley.
“Saquon’s special, he’s an outlier,” Gettleman said.
Barkley does admit he is bothered by the losing. The Giants lost more games in ’19 than in Barkley’s three seasons at Penn State (11). This is why he has already started getting his body ready and making changes to how he does it.
“I really want to win now. That is the mindset,” Barkley said. “You don’t train your ass off to go 5-11 or 4-12. You train your ass off to go win a championship, to compete for a championship.”